Jovial Bowden is coaching team of grandchildren, too


MIAMI -- A multiple-choice question: What's the biggest distraction for Florida State coach Bobby Bowden in the days leading up to Saturday's Federal Express Orange Bowl game against No. 2 Nebraska?

1. The media.

2. The pre-game festivities.

3. The grandchildren.

The answer is 3, or in Bowden's case, 15. That's been the number of grandchildren running around Bowden's suite at the team's hotel. Inevitably, Bowden joked yesterday, "I wind up with two or three of them in my bed in the morning. Usually the ones with the highest temperatures."

While he has claimed to be more tight for this game than for any in his career, Bowden was in his typical jovial mood at the Media Day inside the Orange Bowl. Part of the reason for his popularity with the media -- and some resentment from his fellow coaches -- are the answers he gives to the simplest of questions.

A sampling: Asked if he thought Heisman Trophy quarterback Charlie Ward would make it in the NFL, Bowden said, "I look up there and keep seeing guys on crutches. The reason they're on crutches is that they can't get out of people's way. I've never seen Charlie on crutches."

When a religion reporter wanted to know if Bowden prayed for victories, he said, "I never have prayed for one -- out loud. I remember what General Neyland [legendary Tennessee coach Bob Neyland] used to say, 'What happens if both coaches pray to God for a victory?' He said it was the one who had the best defensive tackles."

Ward shuffles priorities

Ward spent more of yesterday's 90-minute session posing with trophies (Heisman, Orange Bowl) and dignitaries than he did answering questions from reporters.

Asked at one point if he would rather play basketball or football, Ward said, "Cards."

The name game

While nobody has pinned a theme for this game -- "Game of the Century IV" was shot down by Bowden last month -- both teams have their own mottos.

For Nebraska, it's the one the Cornhuskers have been saying all season: "Refuse To Lose." It was initiated by the team's unity council, a group of seniors that act as a liaison between the players and coach Tom Osborne, during spring practice.

"It means we put 11 guys on the field who want to leave everything they have out there," said All-American linebacker and Butkus Award winner Trev Alberts. "When push and shove time come, nobody on this team is going to give up."

Florida State's motto for this game is slightly less catchy: "One Thing Left." While the Seminoles achieved their first goal, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, they fell short on their second, an undefeated season.

Sign from above?

If you're looking for omens for Saturday's game, consider the weather at yesterday's Media Day session. When Nebraska came out onto the field, a dark cloud hung overhead and, within minutes, there was a torrential rainstorm.

By the time the Seminoles had arrived, so had bright sunshine.

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