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Tommy Puts A Scare Into Bobby

Oct. 25, 1999


CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – The words of praise from father to son at midfield in Death Valley will have to do for now for Bobby and Tommy Bowden.

While the two could finally relax – Bobby Bowden’s victory No. 300 was secure and their father vs. son showdown was done – Tommy said Sunday the family might not reflect on the game’s importance until their annual summer reunion.

“I get to see him for such a brief time,” Tommy Bowden said a day after No. 1 Florida State (8-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) rallied to defeat Clemson 17-14. “And it’s not only (Bobby), there’s my other brother (Jeff). We usually don’t see that crowd until summer.”

It was a long week of buildup for the few minutes Bobby and Tommy met in the center of the field Saturday night. Both coaches spoke to their teams, did their radio shows, spoke to the media and left with their teams.

“That handshake was about it,” Tommy Bowden said. “Then you’re gone.”

Florida State’s national title hopes and Bowden’s milestone were in doubt for much of the game. Bowden’s still not sure how his team managed to beat Clemson (3-4, 3-2).

“This is one of those games you go out there and play and you feel like you’re losing, you’re losing, you’re losing and you’re going to get beat,” Bowden said. “Then all of a sudden you win it and I don’t even know how.”

Florida State remained No. 1 in the latest Associated Press college football poll. It received 55 first-place votes from the panel and led No. 2 Penn State, 1,733 points to 1,684.

Tommy Bowden – that chip off the ol’ whistle – did about all he could to steal this one from his old man. “I told him after the game he outtricked me 3-0,” said Daddy.

Tommy’s Tigers (3-4, 3-2) converted a fake punt for 23 yards on the way to Clemson’s first touchdown. And he called a double reverse, throw-the-ball back to quarterback Woody Dantzler for another first down.

But trailing 17-14 and faced with a fourth-and-1 from Florida State’s 30, the younger Bowden played it straight, going for a tying 41-yard field goal that failed. Tony Lazarra looked like he kicked the ground and Seminoles cornerback Tay Cody got a hand on the kick, Tommy Bowden said.

Tommy crouched on the sidelines alone, head down, as time ran out. “I was more disappointed that we missed a chance to beat the number one team in the country and with any familial ties,” he said.

Peter Warrick, back for Florida State after missing the past two games with legal troubles, caught 11 passes for 121 yards. But when he had chances to make a difference, he dropped plays he’d normally break for big yards. Warrick chose not to talk to reporters after the game.

Bobby Bowden thought the distraction of Warrick’s situation – he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor petty theft on Friday for a department store scam and was finally cleared to play – led to his inconsistency.

“I’ve never seen Peter do what he did tonight since he was a freshman,” Bowden said.

Travis Minor scored on a 1-yard run and Chris Weinke threw to Dan Kendra for a 2-point conversion with 10 seconds left in the third quarter as Florida State tied it 14-all.

Sebastian Janikowski’s third field goal, a 39-yarder, with 5:26 was the difference.

The win kept alive the Seminoles’ drive for Bowden’s second national championship.

“This team hasn’t been beat,” Weinke said, “and we don’t think we will be beat.”

Bowden joined Bear Bryant, Pop Warner, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Joe Paterno as the only major college coaches to reach 300 victories.

Florida State’s victory wrapped a week unlike the Bowdens probably had ever seen. The family – from Bobby to wife Ann to sons Bobby, Terry, Jeff and Steve, to brother-in-law Jack Hines and Tommy’s wife, Linda – shared some personal, funny and embarrassing stories.

Ann Bowden sat with a sweatshirt half Clemson, half Florida State. Everyone in college football’s first family pretty much left satisfied, its patriarch said.

“Mama’s happy, I know,” Bobby Bowden said of his wife. “She wanted a close game and that I would win because I’m older. She wanted her boy to look good and he looked good. He looked too good to suit me.”