Skip to main content

Bobby Bowden: Jameis Winston can be best ever at Florida State


Retirement can sometimes be an adjustment for those who were in their job for a long time, but if you talk with Bobby Bowden, when he's not on the golf course or watching college football on Saturday, you'd quickly find the octogenarian is doing just fine nowadays.

The former Florida State coach has kept busy and recently wrote a book, "The Wisdom of Faith," that pays scant attention to the sport he's closely associated with. He took some time out from his busy book tour to chat with College Football 24/7 to answer some questions about everything from the 2014 Seminoles to the upcoming college football playoff. (Editor's note: Bowden's answers were edited for length.)

CFB 24/7: Why write another book right now?

Bowden: Well, other people decide that for me. I've had books written about me, but I don't say, how about writing a book? The other books about me were kind of about football and my life, but this is different. This is a little spiritual. It's about my faith and the wisdom of that faith that helped me get through some bad times. Because all of us have problems. Sometimes we think we're the only guy that has problems -- well, no you're not. Everybody's got them. If they haven't had one, they're going to have one later. That's life.

My book is about how faith can get us through these problems. I tell you how to do it and then my son (Steve), who co-wrote the book, who was a religious professor for years, gave scripture to back up my thoughts.

CFB 24/7: Do you wonder "what if" when it comes to Charlie Ward playing in the NFL?

BB: That story shows you what an honorable young man Charlie Ward was. Heisman Trophy winner and he's going to get drafted high (in the NFL). He's also going to get drafted high in basketball. Charlie told me to tell the pros, if he got drafted in the first round in basketball, I am going to go to basketball. He didn't have to say that, he could have said I'm going to football or basketball, whoever pays me the most and had them bidding against each other.

He saved someone (in the NFL) a whole lot of money.

CFB 24/7: How do you think Ward would have fared if he played college football today?

BB: If you go back to 1992, 1993 and watch Florida State, you'd see Charlie Ward doing the same thing back then that they're eating people up with today. That's getting into the shotgun, spreading people out and going as fast as you can. Gus Malzahn at Auburn last year probably did it better than anybody. He told me at a banquet that he got the idea of fast-paced football watching Charlie Ward when Gus was in high school in Arkansas. Boy, would Charlie Ward fit into college football today.

CFB 24/7: You played against a pretty good quarterback in Tim Tebow your final four years. Do you think he got the short end of the stick in the NFL?

BB: No, I don't think so. They gave him opportunities. They gave him opportunities to win the job, several times. He did not win it. I don't think we can blame anybody. He gave it a good shot, and he evidently did not have what they're looking for in the NFL.

CFB 24/7: Do you feel better now about how your tenure ended at Florida State?

BB: Yeah. I was very upset and very disappointed when I left there. That's behind me now. This will be my fifth year out of it and I've had a very good life since then. I wouldn't swap it for anything. People ask, "Do you miss coaching?" I say not a dadgum bit. At my age, I'm 84, I don't miss it one bit.

BB: Well, we'd have had about 14 chances. We were in the top four for 13 of those years. We'd have had a lot of chances, I'd love to have that to do over again.

We would have had a lot of opportunities had that rule been in effect, although I don't like it (laughs). I like it the way it was.

CFB 24/7: Best team you had was__?

BB: My '87 team was, in my opinion, the best team I ever had at Florida State. We had more pros ... heck I think the backfield had three first-rounders in it. That was the strongest team I ever had. We lost by one point to Miami, and they won the national championship. We came in second. That would have been a pretty good little playoff team.

CFB 24/7: Have you talked with Jimbo Fisher about the pressures of defending a title?

BB: No, not personally. I've said things and I'm sure he's read them in the paper. Jimbo is one of the sharpest coaches I've been around. He's approaching that team just like I would have -- that's to tell those kids to quit trying to drink up all this stuff about how good you are. That's all you've heard the past six months, how good you are. You've got the best quarterback, the greatest kicker ... they've been hearing that. It's like perfume, if you put it on, then good, but if you drink it, it's going to kill you. Jimbo knows his greatest task is to not let those kids get overconfident. Keep them level-headed and keep them hungry.

They're as good as anybody in the country. I don't know anybody who has as good of players as Florida State. Those kids still have to do everything Coach Fisher says and not lose their hunger.

CFB 24/7: Would you have handled Jameis Winston differently last year, with the off-the-field issues he went through?

BB: Ask (Sebastian) Janikowski. Ask him what I did to him when he just came in late at the Sugar Bowl when we were fighting for a national championship. Ask him if I kicked him off. I ran him and ran him and ran him and ran him.

I think Jimbo handled that thing pretty dadgum good. The kid has to be careful he doesn't push him too far, though.

CFB 24/7: Can Winston be the best quarterback in school history?

BB: No doubt about it with as great a start as he did. Get a Heisman your first year, threw for 4,000 yards -- he's gotten the best start out of any of them there. We've had some great ones. But we need to let him play it out, though. Who knows what will happen this year. Or even the next year if he chooses to play another.

CFB 24/7: Who's the best player you ever coached?

BB: The guy who had the best results was probably Charlie Ward. I think Chris Weinke gets overlooked, he took us to three straight national championship games. Not many have done that. He was outstanding. Danny McManus is one of my favorites. He goes up to Canada and wins Most Valuable Player year after year. We really had some outstanding quarterbacks. We were blessed.

Didn't Deion (Sanders) play for us? (laughs) Deion was an all-timer. He's an all-century player.

CFB 24/7: Who was better to coach, Deion or recent Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks?

BB: I don't think there was anybody better to coach than Derrick Brooks. He was a perfect example of what you could have. If all your players were like him, you just had to roll the ball out there and you'd win the national championship. He was a good student, he was well-liked, he was handsome, he could fly, he could hit you. He had everything. We had some great linebackers, but Derrick, with all the things he did for humanity, kind of sets him alone.

CFB24/7: Best player you coached against was__?

BB: We played against Tony Dorsett at Pitt. At that time, I thought he was the best running back I ever played against and probably still is. We also played against Emmitt Smith at the University of Florida. He was a great runner, we could hardly stop him. Miami had those great players down there. When we caught Miami and Florida in the 80's and 90's, they were the best in the country, No. 1 in the dadgum nation. I would have liked to play them when they were about No. 50 in the nation.

*Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter **@BryanDFischer.*

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content