- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 15, 2002

At halftime, one unhappy spectator at Byrd Stadium guzzled a cup of coffee in the forlorn hope that it might wash away the taste of Florida State's 30-0 lead over Maryland.
No such luck. The coffee was bitter, too.
Someday, somewhere, the Terrapins actually may give the Seminoles a game. For now, the carnage keeps getting worse. Florida State won the first 12 meetings in this ridiculous rivalry by an average of 36 points. Last night Bobby Bowden's 'Noles almost matched that in the first half en route to a 37-10 breeze before 51,758 presumably dismayed eyewitnesses.
The drubbing illustrated again how far Maryland remains from being able to lick traditionally strong teams. In losses to Florida in the Orange Bowl, Notre Dame in this season's opener and Florida State, the Terps have been outscored 115-33, which is no way to influence poll voters, bowl selectors and recruits.
Let's remember, though, how far Ralph Friedgen's Terps have come from their dismal days under Mark Duffner and Ron Vanderlinden. They appear to be about halfway through their journey from patsy to powerhouse. Right now Maryland is a good team at a middlin' level, which unfortunately is not where bully boys like Florida State live.
Rule No.1 for teams attempting to smite prestigious enemies hip and thigh is, don't give them anything. The Terps ignored this sensible dictum in the first half and paid for it through their derrieres. Four of Florida State's first five scores followed a blocked field goal attempt, a 28-yard punt, a lost fumble and an interception, which should have been frustrating enough to make the newer, slimmer Fridge snarf a few Twinkies on the sideline.
Did somebody mention frustration? With Florida State nursing a 13-0 lead in the second quarter, Maryland tailback Chris Downs raced 61 yards for a touchdown that appeared to resuscitate the Terps. But what was that yellow handkerchief doing on the field? It seems somebody in red and white had thrown an illegal block, and after the resulting penalty Friedgen's troops could have started preparing for Eastern Michigan next Saturday. Or maybe for next season.
While Maryland's master of gridiron affairs stalked and stomped for three hours, Florida State's Bowden strolled his turf in his usual calm manner. When you have achieved what he has over 37 seasons two national championships, nine ACC titles, 14 straight seasons of 10 or more victories from 1987 through 2000 and a lifetime winning percentage of .781 (326-91-4) at Samford, West Virginia and Florida State there isn't much that gets you angry.
One thing that does fire Bowden's ire are questions about retirement, and no wonder. At 72, he appears 10 of 15 years younger. His energy and ability to make quick decisions have not flagged or lagged. And most important, he still enjoys what he does.
"I want to die on the field," Bowden drawled recently to the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. "I've never thought for one minute about retiring. I enjoy doing this so much, I just can't imagine what life would be without it. As long as I'm healthy and we're winning, this is what I want to do."
Unless Bowden is the world's greatest actor, his time-tested good ol' boy schtick is for real. He fires off Southern-fried one-liners with the best of 'em, as a couple of sportswriting generations can attest. Moreover, he has substantial interests outside of football, unlike many younger workaholics who study film and plot plays year-round. Bobby is intensely interested in World War II history, and he frequents churches and pulpits more often than you would suspect of a guy who makes a living beating up on other coaches.
A few years ago, Bowden found himself lecturing at a meeting of the American Football Coaches Association. In the audience was Eddie Robinson, the legendary Grambling coach whose half-century career produced a record 408 victories.
"I'm thinking, 'What in the world is he doing down there?'" Bowden recalled. "That should be a 22-year-old just going into college coaching, and here's a guy 75 years old and he's got his pencil and pad taking notes. He never got to the point where he didn't think he had to learn more."
Bowden passed Bear Bryant's 323 victories last season and currently owns the third-best winning percentage among active coaches. He needs 84 wins to pass Robinson about eight more good seasons worth and it might not be smart to bet against him.
Robinson, for one, thinks his record could fall to his pal Bobby. "The way he loves the game and the way he goes about it, there is no reason he won't go until 80 and past," said Louisiana's grand old man.
Now that's a discomforting thought for fans at Maryland and elsewhere in the ACC: Bowden on the Seminoles' sideline in 2010. Perhaps they should just quit waiting for him to quit.
Considering his inexplicably late addition to the head coaching ranks, Friedgen probably would be delighted to accomplish a smidgen of what Bowden has. Heck, at this point he'd be happy if his Terps simply threatened to beat the 'Noles. Someday, somewhere.


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