DAYTONA BEACH — Everybody knows that Richard Petty is the King of NASCAR, but Bobby Bowden was the one holding court at the fabled Daytona International Speedway Saturday prior to the Coke Zero 400.
On this sweltering July afternoon, Bowden was back among many of the same fans and press who followed him during the 34 years he spent as head coach of the Florida State football program.
Football's good ol' boy meets the good ol' boys of NASCAR.
Cheers that were normally reserved for the likes of Tony Stewart or Danica Patrick were there for Bowden as well, drawing the biggest response with his call, "Drivers, start your dadgum engines."
Despite being three years removed from roaming the sidelines on Saturdays, Bowden's take on the state of the sport still resonates with many.
When asked about the new four-team playoff system coming to college football, Bowden came right to the point.
"I could live without it," the 82-year-old said. "I coached for 57 years and I played the game for 10 years before that, we never had a playoff and everything turned out OK."
OK is an understatement, considering Bowden won two national championships and is currently the second all-time winningest coach in Division I history.
These days, Bowden spends most of his time worrying about his short game rather than his kicking game.
"My golf game has improved, but my score has not improved," Bowden said.
Asked whether or not he would be interested in serving on a yet-to-be-created selection committee for college football's new postseason, Bowden seemed more content to stay on the sidelines.
"I'm doing pretty good where I am," he said. "It's a heck of a burden. Just a heck of burden."
It's that burden that Bowden believes will make it difficult for whomever joins the group, asking them to put aside friendships and biases to pick the best possible teams to compete in the national semifinals.
"I don't care who's doing it, dadgum, you are going to get some team that they like better than the others," Bowden added. "I like it the way it is."
When the subject turned to Florida State and whether or not the school should ever consider a move from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Bowden was just as outspoken.
"If I was Florida State, I wouldn't even consider it," Bowden said. "They should stay right where they are."
The Hall of Fame coach recalled when the Seminoles were being courted by several conferences in the mid-1990s, including the Southeastern Conference. The school would eventually choose to make the Atlantic Coast Conference its home, a decision that Bowden believes changed his life forever.
"To win a national championship, which was my goal, the best way to do that was through the ACC," Bowden said. "I would hate to go through the SEC and win one.
No playoffs were OK with Bobby Bowden
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