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Bowden returns to FSU for first time

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP)

LSU will have a tough time beating Alabama twice in the same season, former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said Tuesday night during his first visit back on campus since his departure two years ago.

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Bowden knows something about rematches of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams. His 1996 club lost the national championship to rival Florida in a rematch at the Sugar Bowl just five weeks after the Seminoles had won the regular-season game.

''We got beat pretty doggoned good that second game,'' Bowden said.

''It wouldn't surprise me for LSU to win, they are good as you've seen, but to me Alabama has the same advantage that Florida had on us,'' Bowden said. ''They got beat and they're mad as you know what. They're as made as a wet hen. And if you're not careful, your guys are satisfied.''

Bowden attended the game Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala, where LSU defeated the host Crimson Tide 9-6 in overtime. He said they were the two best teams he saw this year and are deserving of a rematch for the national title.

''Defense wins championships,'' Bowden said. ''Alabama and LSU this year are kind of a different breed, their defenses are devastating.''

His Seminoles won national championships in 1993 and 1999 and went 14 straight seasons between 1987-2000 with 10 wins or more. He retired as major college football's second-most winning coach behind only former Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

Bowden's teams won 389 games on the field although the NCAA stripped him of a dozen victories for an academic scandal that encompassed 10 sports at the school.

The 82-year-old Bowden did get in a quip about his departure though during his talk to the Tallahassee Quarterback Club.

''Bernie Sliger, my favorite president, put that down,'' Bowden said. ''He let me stay here by the way.''

Although Stanley Marshall was Florida State's president when Bowden was hired in 1976, Sliger took over soon afterward and is given credit for keeping him at Florida State despite coaching overtures from several schools between 1979 and the early `90s that included both LSU and Alabama.

Bowden wanted to coach the Seminoles in 2010, but after nearly a decade of mediocrity and a decline in recruiting, he was replaced by offensive coordinator and ''coach-in-waiting'' Jimbo Fisher.

Although both men claim their relationship is good, Fisher and Bowden haven't spoken since.

''He knows where I live,'' Bowden said Tuesday night. ''He knows my phone number if he never needs it.''

Florida State has gone 18-8 under Fisher and is headed to the Champs Bowl on Dec. 29 in Orlando.

Bowden had often proclaimed during his heyday that he would retire if he ever had more than a season or two of three or four losses.

After four losses in 2001 and five in 2002, Bowden said he wanted to get the Seminoles back on top. Then he announced he would like to reach 400 victories. Bowden, like Paterno, wasn't about to retire voluntarily and Florida State alumni were growing weary of waiting while the program sagged.

Bowden stays busy, averaging between two and five speaking engagements a week and a bit more time on the golf course. And he still watches a lot of football games.

''I enjoy watching `em at home,'' he said. ''I don't have to fight traffic.''

Tagged: Florida State, Florida, Alabama, LSU

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