|Bowdens: Dad vs. son is no longer fun|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 02 September 2007 08:07|
``I don't know if my mother's coming,'' Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said during his weekly news conference.
She isn't, Florida State's athletic department said Friday.
And Ann, the woman who famously wore a half Clemson, half Florida State sweater in the Death Valley stands the first time her husband, Bobby, took on her son's Tigers in 1999, might not be the only Bowden absent Monday night for the ninth Bowden Bowl.
Also unlikely to attend is Tommy's brother, Jeff, who resigned as Florida State's offensive coordinator under harsh criticism for the team's play.
``We don't like it anymore,'' Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. ``To me, Tommy does the same thing I do, keep it in the confines of Florida State vs. Clemson.''
That's certainly not the way the series began eight years back.
Bobby's team was ranked No. 1 and headed for its second national title of the decade going into the series' inaugural father-son game. Tommy was an up-and-comer, hired to turn Clemson back into winners after he led Tulane to an undefeated season the previous year.
To top it off, a Seminoles victory would be Bobby's historic 300th.
College football couldn't get enough of the Bowdens that week, following their every move. A caravan of TV trucks trailed the family to northern South Carolina as Bobby watched Tommy's boy, grandson Ryan, play high school football.
The nationally televised game lived up to expectations. Son Tommy used some of his dad's trickery to take a 14-3 lead against the more powerful Seminoles. But then Bobby's team showed its skill, rallying for two late touchdowns and a 17-14 win.
Father and son met at midfield when it was over, Bobby joking that Tommy ``out-tricked me 3-0.''
Both sides left smiling, anticipating more thrills as Tommy's program grew to challenge Bobby's supremacy in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Instead, big time college football got in the way.
Tommy's Tigers lost the next three games against his dad by a combined score of 143-65, each defeat bringing increased fan scrutiny whether the younger Bowden was the right man for the Clemson job.
When Tommy arguably saved his job with his first win over Bobby, 26-10, in 2003, it left Seminoles fans angry about their team's lost chance at the national title.
The Tigers have won three of the past four games with Florida State, those defeats increasing pressure on Tommy's brother Jeff, who eventually resigned.
Tommy, the third of six children, understands Jeff's reluctance at watching the team he helped coach for 13 years move on without him. Like most older brothers, though, the Tigers coach couldn't pass up a dig at his younger sibling.
``He's cleaned the garage out a whole bunch, done landscaping and painting,'' Tommy said. ``He got yard of the month twice.''
Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said Tommy keeps his emotions out of the game and away from players and staff. ``He's candid with us but he also knows there are some things that are on a need-to-know basis and that we don't need to know,'' Koenning said.
This year's game features father and son trying to recover from disappointing seasons.
The Seminoles went 7-6 a year ago, the team's fewest wins under Bowden since going 7-4-1 in 1986.
Clemson looked like the class of the ACC in 2006 with its 7-1 start. But the Tigers lost four of their final five, putting Tommy back on the hot seat.
``Both of us are coming off frustrating years. Usually it's just us and not them,'' Tommy Bowden said. ``That adds a little bit different flavor to it.''
Bobby hired four new offensive assistants, including coordinator Jimbo Fisher from LSU to replace Jeff Bowden, and find the team's firepower of the past.
Tommy's worked with his coordinator, Rob Spence, to find more touches for the team's playmakers at running back, James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
Along with the relief the winning coach will feel, comes the worry about their loved one's prospects for the season.
``The family aspect of it the last few years has made it more difficult, I don't think there's any doubt about that,'' Tommy said.
If Tommy was off the schedule, ``my wife would talk to me again,'' Bobby Bowden said.
``It's tough on ol' Ann Bowden,'' her husband of 58 years said. ``She loves her children.''