3:07 PM PDT, July 8, 2012
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.
Surrounded by a sport rich in tradition and characters itself, Bowden fit right in.
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.
"I'm in the Hall of Fame. If I had been in SEC, that second- and third-place guy ain't in the Hall of Fame."
ON THE MENU
PSU investigation: Findings from an investigation into how Penn State handled the Jerry Sandusky allegations of sexual abuse could be made public soon and according to ESPN.com, it casts a harsh light on former legendary coach Joe Paterno. Citing several sources, the report claims that the Freeh Group's investigation raised questions on the culture of the Nittany Lions football program under Paterno and how that influenced the school's handling of the allegations.
USF coaches get raises: USF coaches Skip Holtz and Stan Heath both received contract extension according to the Tampa Bay Times. The new deals are for six years apiece and will pay Holtz $2 million and Heath $1.13 million. Both coaches are now signed with the school through 2017-18.
Georgia star transfers: Running back Isaiah Crowell will transfer from Georgia to Alabama State following his arrest on felony weapons charges. Crowell was dismissed from the football team by Bulldogs coach Mark Richt on June 28 following an early morning arrest at a vehicle checkpoint. Athens police reportedly found a 9-mm Luger with an altered serial number in Crowell's possession. Last season, he rushed for a team-leading 850 yards and five touchdowns and was named SEC freshman of the year. However, twice last season, he missed time due to suspensions for unspecified violations. Alabama State is a Football Championship Subdivision team and Crowell would be eligible to participate this season rather than being forced to sit out a transfer year.
Financial woes: According to The Associated Press, Arkansas coach John L. Smith plans to declare for bankruptcy after a real-estate development deal in Kentucky went bad. Smith said the deal began during his head coaching days at Louisville from 1998-2002 and was through acquaintances. The volatile real estate market led to Smith and his partner losing money in the deal and forcing the new Razorbacks coach to prepare for the worst. "There have been some sleepless nights trying to get this resolved," Smith told The Associated Press. "There comes a point in time where you say, 'Enough is enough,' and I want it cleaned up and whatever we have to do, we have to do."
Duke player injured: Duke wide receiver Blair Holliday is still in a coma following a jet ski accident on Wednesday, according to the Raleigh News and Observer. Holliday collided with teammate Jamison Crowder on Lake Tillery in North Carolina and was airlifted to UNC Trauma Center where, according to the report, he remains in critical condition. Crowder refused treatment at the scene. Holliday, a sophomore, had three catches last season for the Blue Devils.
We rank 'em: We continue our annual preseason College Football Countdown, where we rank all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. Go to OrlandoSentinel.com/collegegridiron365 daily to find out where your team ranks.
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