Friedgen can't escape Bowdens' attention

Two coaches, broadcaster monitor Terps' progress

ACC notebook

College Football

October 21, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

It isn't that much of a stretch when talking about the Bowdens to refer to them as the First Family of college football.

Bobby Bowden, the head coach at Florida State for the last 29 years, is the NCAA's all-time leader in victories with 347, and is one of the sport's most refreshing, outgoing and interesting characters.

Tommy Bowden, the head coach at Clemson, is one of Bobby Bowden's four sons, and he has gone 40-28 with the Tigers over the past six seasons.

Terry Bowden, another one of Bobby Bowden's sons, was 47-16-1 as the coach at Auburn before leaving the school in 1998. He is currently a college football analyst for ABC, and a regular commentator for the network's weekly game coverage.

The Bowdens are as close-knit as any family in the public eye can be. They vacation together, they go to church together, they get asked questions about one another and, naturally, they talk about football with each other.

Of course, that's where things sometimes get complicated. Tommy Bowden, who is preparing to play Maryland this week, mentioned somewhat offhandedly in his news conference that he spoke with Terry about the Terps and their struggles on offense.

Terry just so happens to have been one of the commentators for Maryland's last two games. He also attended a Maryland practice this year, as analysts often do when preparing to call a game.

"I don't know if I'm real thrilled with that," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, half kidding when told of Tommy's comments. "I don't have a brother who's a TV announcer I can talk to."

And even when Friedgen doesn't have to worry about Clemson anymore, he'll still have to face another Bowden next week when Florida State comes to College Park.

"They probably have a family meeting about me," Friedgen said jokingly.

Tommy Bowden, whom Friedgen has beaten three straight times, certainly went out of his way to compliment Maryland's coach this week, and said he doesn't expect the Terps' offensive struggles to continue.

"If there was one coach in America you were going to call to fix your offense, Ralph would be the guy you'd call," Bowden said. "There's more media focus right now because he hasn't had those offensive struggles before. I'm sure he'll have an answer. I just hope he doesn't find it this week. But his track record proves he'll find it pretty soon."

Around the league

Miami: Similar to the situation with Maryland's Steve Suter, teams seem to finally be catching onto the fact that the best way to stop Hurricanes punt returner Devin Hester is not to kick the ball to him.

Hester, a sophomore who leads the nation in punt-return average (32.3), has returned three kicks for touchdowns this season on only nine attempts. Against Louisville last Thursday, he ran one back

"He reminds me of Barry Sanders a little, who was a great returner in college," said Miami coach Larry Coker, who coached Sanders at Oklahoma State. "But I don't know if I've ever known anybody who was quite as explosive as Devin. When he sees a crease, he attacks it so fast; that's what makes him so special."

Florida State: Bobby Bowden said he tells his players every year not to overlook Wake Forest, the Seminoles' opponent this week, but every year the Demon Deacons seem to jump out to an early lead against his team. Last year, Wake took a 14-0 lead before Florida State wore the Deacons down in the second half and won, 48-28.

"I don't know if anyone in the conference is going to outhustle you or outfight you more than Wake Forest," Bowden said. "They kind of have a lack of depth, which we don't, and I think that sometimes they get tired out on in the fourth quarter, but you know going in they're going to whip you in the first half."

Bowden said he's planning to stick with quarterback Wyatt Sexton, who took over for senior Chris Rix when Rix injured his ankle in the Seminoles' third game of the year.

"Right now, I wouldn't dare take [Sexton] out when we're winning," Bowden said. "He's really making intelligent throws. That's one of his strengths and I hope he keeps it up."

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