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"There's been so many great players through our program," Bowden said. "I've had quite a few calls today from them. And then somebody says, any great game? Well, they're all great. Well there were some pretty dadgum big ones. We won our share, we didn't win them all, but we did win our share."
Bowden's national titles came in '93 with Ward guiding the Seminoles to a 12-1 record and a title-clinching win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. The next national crown came six years later, with Weinke and All-American Warrick leading the 'Noles to a perfect 12-0 record capped by a win over Michael Vick and Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
The '93 title was perhaps Bowden's greatest moment. It came after near misses in 1987, 1988, 1991 and 1992 -- thanks to missed kicks against Miami. In '87, it was a missed field goal, missed extra point and failed 2-point conversion in a 26-25 loss; in '88 the 'Noles only loss was 31-0 against Miami in the season-opener; in '91 Gerry Thomas was wide right in a 17-16 loss; and in '92, Dan Mowrey was wide right on a game-tying attempt in a 19-16 loss. Wide right III occurred in a 2000 loss against Miami, but Florida State still made it to the title game before losing to Oklahoma, 13-2.
Bowden's lone perfect season in '99 made history as the Seminoles became the first team to go wire-to-wire in AP ranked No. 1 from preseason to final poll.
"The first championship was more of a relief," Bowden said. "I think I was able to enjoy the second one a little more."
A few more failed field goals against Miami followed. In 2002, Xavier Beitia was wide left on a last-play, 43-yard attempt in 28-27 loss and Beitia was wide right late in the fourth quarter in a 16-14 Orange Bowl loss to Miami in 2004.
Other than Miami, Bowden's Seminoles were a dominant force. They won the Atlantic Coast Conference 12 times in their first 14 seasons after joining the league in 1992.
Bowden built Florida State's program by scheduling tough opponents -- usually on the road. He was dubbed "King of the Road" in 1981 after playing consecutive road games at Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and LSU. The Seminoles won three of the five.
Other rough patches under Bowden included Randy Moss being kicked out of school for smoking marijuana, Warrick's suspension in 1999 for his involvement in a shopping scam and quarterback Adrian McPherson's dismissal in 2002 amid rumors of gambling.
Bowden, a native of Birmingham, Ala., also is the patriarch of college football's most famous coaching family. Sons Tommy and Terry have been head coaches -- Tommy at Tulane and Clemson; Terry at Auburn and currently at North Alabama. Another son, Jeff, was FSU's offensive coordinator in 2005-06, but the team had its lowest production in a quarter-century and lost 11 times over those two seasons. He was forced to resign after working for his father for 13 seasons.
Bowden's oldest son, Steve, did not get into coaching but was arrested in 2003 on a multimillion investment scam that cost his father $1.6 million.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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