ACC: Bowden Ball

By Jessica Garrison - July 24, 2006

It's a little known but well-observed fact that the Bowden family's DNA includes an entire gene dedicated to dealing with the media. Both FSU coach Bobby and his son, Clemson coach Tommy, found their interview tables mobbed during the coaches' afternoon interview session.

Of course, with the Tigers picked to finish right behind the Seminoles in the Atlantic Division, the reporter mob scene might seem normal. But it's as much about the fact that the pair lob quotes at the assembled masses as easily as their receivers pull down passes. They have the quick-thinking, slow talking Southerner routine worked to perfection, and as much as you might dislike their team or their infernal Chop, you can't help but feel warm towards the guys who speak so friendly and so freely with the press that many other coaches treat like a nuisance.

"I'm not a change man, it just ain't me," Bobby said in reference to other schools' staff changes. "I believe in loyalty. I believe if something goes wrong, it's my fault. The buck stops with the head football coach."

Bobby revels in these media meetings. He was positively congenial when he sat down for a quick interview with CSTV's Greg Amsinger earlier today, admitting that he can't remember more than a few lines to the FSU fight song and oh so many of the names of the hundreds, maybe thousands of players he's coached, so he calls everyone "buddy." His players verified the claim when they were asked to imitate their coach...both worked "buddy" into their impressions. Then again, Bobby claims he has just as much trouble with his own sons' names. Tommy hears "Terry" as much as he hears his name, and hey, that's just Bobby.

For his part, Tommy is well aware that the buck stops at the top. He's had to work hard over the last few years to make sure that it didn't knock him right out of his position when it got there. After years of success, Clemson hit what qualifies in South Carolina as a few rough years and suddenly the message board world was calling for his head. Sounding more of his father's generation than his own, Tommy expounded on the brave new coaching world that the Internet has wrought.

The Internet "has increased expectations," Tommy said. "Now negative publicity snowballs like it did with me a few years ago. You gotta win a few big games to slow that down. It's a new part of the profession. Criticism has always been a part of the profession, but that's the thing that's racheted it up another level."

With the future looking bright at Clemson and shining as is typical on the preseason hopes of the Seminoles, it's easy for the Bowdens to find a reason to smile.

Posted by Jessica Garrison at 07:10 PM on July 24, 2006

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