Friday, December 13, 2002
Another Bowden looking to bloom?
By Marc Connolly
MIAMI -- With longtime FSU offensive coordinator Mark Richt leaving the comfy confines of Tallahassee for the insecurity of a head coaching job at Georgia, finding his replacement will be as imperative as signing any stud recruit over the coming weeks.
"Next week we're having our National Coaches Convention up in Atlanta, so I'm going to interview some people up there and then decide who I'm going to hire," said Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden after stepping off the dais from his pregame press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The 71-year-old legend's search doesn't have to be too hard. All he needs to do is look at a family portrait to find a man who just may be his front-runner -- his son, Jeff, who has been his receiver's coach since 1994. Though Bobby's eyes lit up when you mention his youngest son, he still managed to issue a thought-out statement that doesn't give away whether or not the decision is already made.
"I am considering all my assistants on my staff, including Jeff," Bowden said.
Even though Jeff's name has been thrown around on the rumor mill for some of the smaller head coaching posts, it's a job the younger Bowden would definitely want.
"I'd love to move in to Mark's spot, of course," said Coach Jeff, as he's known throughout campus. "My dad told me I'll be considered for it, but also that he's going to look at a few other guys in the weeks after the game (Orange Bowl)."
With Snoop Minnis out of Wednesday night's game against Oklahoma due to academic failures, every receiver in Jeff's corps is coming back next fall. And they all know who they want running the offense.
"With Coach Richt departing, I think he should be next in line for the job," said junior Atrews Bell, who Jeff turned into a flanker from a quarterback four years ago when he entered FSU as a walk-on. "He knows what to do. He knows what the quarterback is supposed to do. He knows the whole scheme. It should be an easy choice, you would think."
"He's one of the reasons we have the great tradition of receivers here at Florida State," said junior split end Robert Morgan. "He just pushes us hard, no matter whether it's a big game or a small game."
One of the reasons Jeff's so well-liked by his players is because of the intensity he displays every minute he's on the field.
"He's more rowdy, and more of an in-your-face type of coach than Coach Bowden, who is more laid back," said Bell. "But he's always gotten his guys to respond. Just look at the players that have come out of here."
It's a long list. In Jeff's tenure, he has helped developed the talents of standouts such as Kez McCorvey, E.G. Green. Andre Cooper, Peter Warrick, Ron Dugans and Laveraneus Coles, in addition to his current flock, led by the now-departed Minnis. Having these players on his resume will help him one day follow in the footsteps of his father, and two brothers as head coaches.
"Jeffrey's done a great job with our receivers and they've been very successful," said Bobby. "I would think that he's going to be like (Clemson head coach) Tommy and Terry -- somebody's gonna grab him one of these days. I think he'll be as successful as they are eventually."
"My brother is 40 years old now and he's ready for anything," said Terry, now a studio analyst for ABC College Football after a successful stint as head coach at Auburn. "I throw his name out for head coaching jobs all the time. He should be considered."
In appearance, Jeff has the blushed face, the southern twang and the engaging personality of Terry, but his dad says he's a mix of his other two sons.
"You can take him and you'll see he's a little like both of them (Tommy and Terry)," said Bobby.
"We're a real close family, and we're all alike in so many ways," said Jeff, who played for Bobby at FSU before starting his career upon graduation as Terry's receivers coach at Salem College before stints at Samford and Southern Miss. "We all have been able to work under our father, so there's a lot of him in us in both personality and football-wise."
One thing he won't mimic his brothers on is how he schedules his team's games when he's a head coach someday. In other words, he won't try to play Florida State if Bobby is still there.
"Why would I do that? That's the easiest way to have one definite loss on the slate," joked Bowden.
All the better reason to hang around the empire in Tallahassee that his dad created. Should he be named as FSU's offensive coordinator in the coming weeks, guess who'd be on the short list of replacements for Papa Bowden somewhere down the road?
"Wouldn't that be something," said Jeff. "The way my dad loves what he does and he much fun he's still having, I can't see him ending it all anytime soon."
Marc Connolly is a senior writer for ABC Sports Online.
|Atrews Bell is one of the latest receivers that Jeff Bowden has helped develop at Florida State.|