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Monday, November 3, 2008
Swinney: Ex-Bowden Bowl will be 'awkward'

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Yes, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said, Saturday's game at Florida State will be "very awkward."

For the first time in a decade, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will face Swinney instead of his son, former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, when the Seminoles host Clemson on Saturday. The days of the Bowden Bowl are done.

Oh, and it also happens to be Papa Bowden's 79th birthday on Saturday.

"Wow, it's his birthday," Swinney said. "Man, oh man.

"It's been awkward since I've gotten in this role because Tommy Bowden was my first coach in college, and he's a friend and mentor and guy that I love dearly. It's very, very awkward, and Bobby Bowden is one of my heroes. He's one of the good guys in the profession. ... I have all the respect in the world for him. This is a very strange and awkward situation under the circumstances. So yeah, it will be different, but coach Bowden has been in this business a long time. He's a professional. He understands the business. Same thing with Tommy."

Bobby Bowden said he's got no animosity toward Clemson because of his son's departure.

"That would have no bearing whatsoever," he said. "I just want to win the game. If you'd give me one point today, I'd take it. People would think that, that 'Oh, you're gonna really be mad because your son lost his job.' No, I'm not. No, I'm not. He had 10 wonderful years up there at Clemson. He'll tell you that himself. He left there on a good note as far as he was concerned."

Bowden said he and his wife will enjoy the game more now that one of the Bowdens won't have to lose. Tommy Bowden had beaten his father in four of the past five games.

"We like that," Bobby Bowden said. "When Tommy and I play, she can't win. One of us is going to get beat. Plus, I didn't like it either, because I don't like it when he beats me, and when I beat him, I feel for him. I am so happy. It is the first time in 10 years I don't have to worry about Tommy being on the other side whippin' me, or me whippin' him."

Tommy Bowden is again relaxing in Panama City, and has only talked with his father about three or four times since he left Clemson. Unprompted, the elder Bowden insisted that he and his son have not talked about Clemson's personnel. He said Tommy wouldn't dare come by the house to talk about the game, and Bowden wouldn't ask him to.

"I can see where people would think, 'Now coach Bowden, he's really going to get a good scouting report. We study film. Tommy wouldn't dare, Tommy wouldn't dare try to spill the beans on them to me. Those are his kids. He recruited those kids. And he'll pull for those kids. Will he pull for 'em against me? Probably."

On the night Swinney found out he would be Clemson's next head coach, he got a phone call from Terry Bowden.

"He said, 'Look, Dabo, you'll do a good job. I want you to know all the Bowdens are pulling for you,'" Swinney said.

Bobby Bowden, though, will be pulling for his own team on Saturday. Just like he did when Tommy was coaching.