Shannon saddened to see rival Bowden retire
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) – Bobby Bowden was the mainstay of Florida State-Miami games, the unquestioned central figure in one of college football’s premier rivalries.
Hero to the Seminoles.
Villain to the Hurricanes.
“We hate them,” former Miami defensive end Calais Campbell said in 2007. “And they hate us.”
True, but unnoticed amid all those Wide Rights and Wide Lefts, the “Game of the Century” in 1987, the No. 1 vs. No. 2 game that carried Miami to the 1991 national championship, meetings in the historic Orange Bowl stadium and even one matchup in the Orange Bowl game, was the often-unspoken sense of respect that Bowden and the Hurricanes always extended toward the other.
And when the 80-year-old Bowden announced his retirement Tuesday, Miami coach Randy Shannon was clearly disappointed to see an era end.
“He is college football,” Shannon said Tuesday. “The respect is always going to be there. When you look at Coach Bowden, he was a man who always had a lot of integrity. No matter which coach it was at the University of Miami, you could always talk to him and have a good time with a man with a lot of wit, learn a lot from him.
During Bowden’s time at Florida State, he went 14-21 against Miami. He coached against Florida 36 times during his tenure in Tallahassee, but Miami goes down as his most-faced rival because he squared off with the Hurricanes twice while at West Virginia in the early 1970s, going 1-1 in those games.
“With Florida State being so visible and such a great football team and with the Miami teams being along the same lines, we attracted national attention,” said former Miami coach Jimmy Johnson, who was 4-1 against Bowden from 1984-88. “Even though it was two teams from the same state, everybody in the country watched that game. It caught the nation’s attention.”
Bowden acknowledged many times in the last few years that no opponent gave him more trouble than the Hurricanes, noting that losses to Miami along the way likely cost him at least two more national championships.
“From 1983 until, oh, nearly 2000, the lead game in the nation was Florida State and Miami,” Bowden said in 2007. “That was one of the biggest games. I mean, it was national, boy. Kind of like those old Southern Cal and UCLA games back when O.J. (Simpson) was there. But then of course, since then, Miami and us both have gone down. We’re trying to get back.”
Miami finished this regular season 9-3, suggesting it is closer to what Bowden would define as “back.”
The Seminoles finished 6-6, their season dominated by talk about whether Bowden would be back.
The long-expected word on that front came Tuesday, and it wasn’t a moment savored by many of those linked to the Hurricanes’ side.
“Coach Bowden, he’s a legend in football,” Miami quarterback Jacory Harris said earlier this season. “That’s why they named their field for him, I guess.”
Indeed, it is Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium, and that ground was the scene for some unforgettable Florida State-Miami moments.
Florida State lost on a field goal – wide right – at home in the 1991 game, then met the same fate a year later in Miami. In 2000, it happened again, another potential game-winning kick sailing past the right upright and giving the Hurricanes a 27-24 win.
“It can’t happen any more, can it?” Bowden would later ask.
Oh, but it could.
Two years later, another missed kick cost Florida State. Wide left that time, on a hot Saturday afternoon in the Orange Bowl, giving the defending national champion Hurricanes a 28-27 victory. And Wide Right IV came the following season in the Orange Bowl game, the only time Bowden faced Miami in a postseason matchup, a missed kick with about 5 minutes left helping Miami escape 16-14.
Bowden and the Hurricanes met for the final time this past Labor Day, another down-to-the-wire affair. Florida State had a chance on the final play but Miami won again, 38-34.
It would be the final time Robert Cleckler Bowden coached against the Hurricanes.
“When we play them next year,” Shannon said, “I think it’ll be very strange for everybody.”