Famous `Bear' made impact on Bowden

Florida State coach ranks third all time in coaching victories

College Football

Orange Bowl notebook

January 04, 2001|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

MIAMI- Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has often talked about the influence the legendary Bear Bryant has had on his coaching career. Bowden grew up in Birmingham, Ala., long before Bryant went to Alabama. As a young coach at South Georgia Junior College and later at Samford, Bowden went up to Tuscaloosa to watch practice.

"I spent a lot of time with Gene Stallings, who was a graduate assistant on his staff in 1958," Bowden recalled here this week. "I got to meet Coach Bryant and he came up and spoke at our banquet in Birmingham that year. I'll never forget that. In those days, you could sign a lot more players than you can now.

"That's when he would get his and yours. He would see the guys that he wanted and he would see the guy you would want and he would say, `I'm going to get him where you can't have him either.' He would give me a list of 16 or 17 players who he wouldn't mind see leaving. It was like buying meat. `I'll take one of those, give me two of those.'"

Bowden built his teams at Samford with players who transferred from Alabama and Auburn, and started building his own legend. Despite last night's 13-2 loss to top-ranked Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl game at Pro Player Stadium, it now includes two national championships and 315 Division I-A victories.

Asked if he has less of a sense of urgency than he did back in 1993, Bowden said: "My desire is probably as good. But back in those days, I was desperate for one, because everybody was saying that I can't win one. We had been so close for about six years, come in second, third, fourth. That one [in 1993] helped get the monkey off my back."

Bowden, 71, has no plans to retire any time soon. He remains eight wins behind Bryant's record of 323 victories and seven behind Penn State's Joe Paterno.

"I always felt like the key to being a successful coach, I tell my sons, `Survive the bad years,' " said Bowden, whose 5-6 record in his first year at Florida State in 1976 was his only losing season with the Seminoles. "If you can survive them, you'll be hired back because everything works in a cycle. You'll come back and start winning again."

Castiglione feels at home

Last night's game was something of a homecoming for Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who grew up in nearby Fort Lauderdale. After seeing several Orange Bowl games as a child, Castiglione was invited by a friend to attend the 1986 game between Oklahoma and Penn State.

Castiglione, then the assistant athletic director at Missouri and later the school's athletic director, said he remembered thinking, "Someday, I'm going to come back associated with a team playing for a national championship."

It wasn't the reason he left Missouri for Oklahoma two years ago, but rebuilding the football program in Norman was part of the motivation. A former walk-on football player at Maryland, Castiglione's career in athletic administration began when he needed to get money to help pay for his tuition in College Park.

"Betty Francis [the secretary for Jerry Claiborne] sent me to a department called sports marketing," recalled Castiglione. "I went to work for a guy named Russ Potts. Our goal was to have a bumper sticker on every car in the parking lot at Cole Field House. The athletic director yelled at Potts, `Who is the idiot putting stickers on the cars?' "

Castiglione also had an interesting summer job during college. He parked cars at Inverary, and became friendly with legendary comedian Jackie Gleason. Castiglione got a job parking cars at Gleason's house for private parties. One night, Gleason's wife let out two toy poodles. One was eaten by an alligator.

"I told her that she better let the dog back in, and she said, `You mean dogs,' " recalled Castiglione. "I said, `No, you've only got one now.' "

BCS policy change?

After being embarrassed by its selection of 11th-ranked Notre Dame among the Bowl Championship Series bowl selections, BCS coordinator and ACC commissioner John Swofford hinted yesterday that only top-10 teams will be considered in the future.

The Irish were crushed by Oregon State, 41-9, in the Fiesta Bowl. The two teams that believed it belonged there - No. 5 Virginia Tech and No. 8 Nebraska, which beat Notre Dame in South Bend during the regular season - won their respective bowl games convincingly.

"Obviously, it's not totally without controversy and it's not perfect," said Swofford. "The BCS is certainly a system that is by far better than what we had. The winner of tonight's game will be, if not the national champion, a national champion."

Swofford said that several of the factors that go into the rather complex and convoluted system to determine the top two teams will be analyzed, particularly the margin of victory.

"This is no system out there that will satisfy everybody," said Bowden. "If you take four teams [for a playoff], No. 5 will be mad. If you take eight, No. 9 will be mad."

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