Seminoles’ win quiets talk of Bowden retirement
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Bobby Bowden wanted to find out what his Florida State team was made of: men or mice.
Trailing North Carolina 17-6 at halftime and playing badly, Bowden and
his coaches tore into the Seminole players with a verbal lashing the
coach said they deserved.
“You are not
playing up to your potential,” Bowden recalled of the scolding. “You’ve
got 30 more minutes to go out there and become a man or a mouse.”
The Seminoles gave up another touchdown and trailed 24-6 midway through
the third quarter before they broke loose behind Christian Ponder’s
With Ponder hitting his
last 16 passes, the Seminoles scored 24 points in less than 15 minutes
to grab a 30-27 win over North Carolina on Thursday.
“I can’t remember a better performance by a quarterback under the
circumstances,” Bowden said Friday. “How could it be any better?”
Bowden compared Ponder’s performance to a fourth-quarter comeback win
that Charlie Ward led the Seminoles to at Georgia Tech in 1992 and a
second-half comeback engineered by Chris Weinke that fell short at
Miami in 2000.
“They’re winners,” Bowden said, grouping Ponder with his two Heisman-winning quarterbacks.
Ponder’s heroics saved Bowden from his first four-game losing streak at
Florida State and temporarily quieted critics who want the 79-year-old
coach to retire from a program that has slipped from its status among
the collegiate elite in recent seasons.
“You can imagine what it would have been if we had lost,” Bowden said.
“The only answer is to win. You have to win. That’s where the pressure
Aside from Ponder, the Seminoles
(3-4, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) looked inept for much of the game
— managing only 43 rushing yards and being tagged with 16 penalties.
Bowden, hoarse on Friday from a lack of sleep, said he couldn’t
remember a team that won while playing “that bad and that awful.”
Ponder was the exception. He continued his near flawless play this
season, completing 33 of 40 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns
while logging his sixth straight game without an interception. The
junior from Colleyville, Texas, has completed 70 percent of his passes
for 2,176 yards and a dozen touchdowns with just one interception. He
has thrown 237 passes since his last interception.
Despite their 1-3 ACC standing, the conference’s mediocre Atlantic
Division remains up for grabs and the Seminoles will have a say in who
Bowden knows that the morale boost from the comeback win at North Carolina won’t last long.
“What does it mean?” Bowden asked. “Seven more days of peace?”