Bowden defends his recruits

Florida State coach says players he seeks are same as those 20 years ago


Sugar Bowl

January 04, 2000|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

NEW ORLEANS -- Florida State coach Bobby Bowden yesterday defended his disciplinary policies and said he doesn't plan on changing the type of players he recruits.

Asked pointedly during a news conference about the Seminoles' off-field problems this season, Bowden seemed a bit perturbed by the line of questioning.

"The type of players we recruit are the same type we recruited 20 years ago when we won the Sunday school award," Bowden said. "We recruit the best kids we can. If they are bad characters, we don't sign them. It's not your bad guys that are bad all the time, it's your good guys. You have good guys, from great families, who do something wrong.

"It's like what you did when you were a kid, and I did. Except today everybody knows about it. If you don't want people to know about it, don't be No. 1. Be No. 50. That I have found out. I am not happy this has happened. We have done what we felt was necessary."

Bowden said that his decision to announce three players had broken curfew here in the past week was done to insure that the story didn't become bigger than it might have been had it been leaked to or discovered by the media.

Defensive end Roland Seymour will not start tonight's Sugar Bowl against Virginia Tech, but kicker Sebastian Janikowski will. Another player, reserve defensive back Reggie Durden, also has been disciplined. All three had to do extra sprints in practice and had their curfew cut from 1 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Asked if he planned to start Janikowski, a first-team All-American, Bowden said: "If we kick off, he will kick unless he has a heart attack -- or I have one. I do have a Warsaw rule [Janikowski is from Poland]. If he is breathing and alive, he will kick off."

Said Bowden: "We had 103 players make curfew, so it must be working."

But Bowden opened up himself to criticism by making light of star receiver Peter Warrick's arrest earlier this season. Warrick was arrested for theft after receiving clothing from a local department store clerk at a deeply discounted price. He was subsequently suspended two games by the university, and only had his playing status restored when the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor.

"If I have a boy who commits murder, I'm not going to let him go free, but if I get a kid who gets a good discount, I'm going to ask him how he got it," Bowden said jokingly.

Asked what he did wrong as a kid growing up in Birmingham, Ala., Bowden said: "If I told you some things I did, they wouldn't let me come back. A lot of windows busted out that I might have something to do with. A lot of streetlights knocked out. A lot of trolleys running that couldn't run up and down the tracks because I pulled the dadgum string."

Outzen adjusts to role

At this time last year, Florida State quarterback Marcus Outzen was getting ready for the biggest game of his life.

Bigger than the game against Florida five weeks before, the one in which Outzen went from a relative unknown making his second start to a campus hero leading the Seminoles to victory over the hated Gators and a place in the national championship game against Tennessee.

"It seems like yesterday," Outzen said recently.

Outzen is no longer unknown, but he has been virtually unused this season. Returned to the backup role he played before Chris Weinke suffered a season-ending neck injury with four games left in the 1998 season, Outzen is preparing for tonight's game against Virginia Tech just as he did last year's game.

"I'm getting ready as if I'm going to play," said Outzen, a redshirt junior. "It could happen. It would be an unfortunate situation because it would mean Chris got hurt. But I wouldn't want to cheat myself and my teammates and everybody else in this town if I wasn't prepared to play."

In a 23-16 defeat to Tennessee, Outzen and the Seminoles got off to a slow start. While Florida State was able to make it a game, Outzen wound up being sacked four times, intercepted twice and completed just nine of 22 passes for 145 yards.

"I definitely wasn't ready to play in a national championship game," he said.

Longtime Florida State quarterback coach Mark Richt said that Outzen shouldn't be blamed for the team's loss to the Volunteers.

"He didn't have great support," Richt said. "He definitely had his problems, but there were a lot of problems besides Marcus."

With Weinke fully recovered, Bowden handed him back the starting job. Outzen appeared in all 11 games this season, but mostly in a mop-up role. He completed 12 of 26 passes for 169 yards, throwing one touchdown and an interception.

The Mariners connection

Among the Virginia Tech fans expected here for the game is Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella, whose son, Derek, is a reserve defensive tackle for the Hokies.

"He plays just like his father did -- with a lot of emotion," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer.

The younger Piniella is one of his team's top performers on special teams.

Beamer said that he's become a fan of the Mariners, but he still roots harder for the Texas Rangers. The reason? Rangers manager Johnny Oates is a former classmate of Beamer's at Virginia Tech and remains a close friend.

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