NEW YORK (AP) -Terry Bowden insists this isn't a mid-life crisis.
After nine years away from coaching, the former Auburn coach wants back in the game. Bowden has stayed close to college football and been making a nice living as an analyst for ABC, Westwood One Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.
Lately, however, something's been tugging at him. He wants to coach again and if all goes according to his plan he'll be back on the sideline at some major college next season.
``It's not something profound,'' the 51-year-old Bowden said in a recent telephone interview. ``But you say to yourself, 'Is this really what I want to do the rest of my life?' (What's) been missing to me only comes down on that field.''
For a while Bowden, the son of Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, was at the top of his profession. He took over an Auburn program in 1993 that was strapped with NCAA sanctions and won his first 20 games. His 1993 Tigers went undefeated but because of the sanctions could not play in the postseason.
By the middle of the 1998 season, things had turned sour for Bowden. The Tigers started 1-5 and Bowden was convinced he'd be fired at the end of the season. So he quit.
He finished with a 47-17-1 record at Auburn. His overall record, which includes stints at Salem College and Samford, is 111-53-2.
Bowden had been toying with the idea of trying to make a comeback, but realized he needed to get serious about it last year when West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was being wooed by Alabama.
Bowden grew up in West Virginia and played for the Mountaineers. If that job had come open, how could he not make a play for it?
Bowden figured, ``I better be ready to at least throw my name in the hat.''
Rodriguez turned down the Crimson Tide and Bowden was relieved.
``Rich stayed and I got about a year to be ready to make a decision of what I want to do,'' he said.
Bowden spent this past offseason visiting teams, watching practices and sitting in on meetings. One of his stops was, of course, at Florida State.
He said coaching is like riding a bicycle, once you learn you never forget. The difference is ``The bicycles are 10 speed now and I'm learning a few new gears.
``Football will always be about blocking and tackling. Terminology changes .... Xs and Os stay the same,'' he said.
So what kind of job is Bowden looking for? Well, he's not about to limit himself. While he's done most of his coaching in the South, his time as a broadcaster has taken him all over the country. He feels as if he could coach anywhere.
``I don't think you have the luxury to be picky,'' he said. ``If the right opportunity came up where I can help somebody, that's where I want to be.''
So early in the season, it's hard to even speculate where Bowden could end up or how much in demand he'd be. On his record alone, it shouldn't be too tough for him to land another job.
And he's available immediately. No one will have to wait until after the season to interview Bowden.
Another point working in his favor is the growing trend toward schools cutting loose their coaches sooner rather than later to avoid the postseason hiring rush and have the first pick of top candidates.
North Carolina went that route last year, firing John Bunting in midseason and hiring Butch Davis in November.
Bowden seems to be in good shape to land a desirable job.
One place he has no desire to end up is Tallahassee as his 77-year-old father's replacement.
``I will probably retire a second time before he retires the first time,'' Terry Bowden said. ``Dad's not planning on retiring and I'm not planning on waiting.''

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