Seminoles share Bowden’s grief

PASADENA, Calif. — Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has been in Southern California, but it is not known if he will attend the Bowl Championship Series title game between the top-ranked Seminoles and No. 2 Auburn.

They meet at 5:30 p.m. today at Rose Bowl Stadium.

Bowden’s 23-year-old grandson, T.J., was killed in a car accident Dec. 26.

“I remember when T.J. was born, we were together at Samford University,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Sunday. “I go back with that family a long time, and it’s a great tragedy. It’s a terrible tragedy what’s happened to them, and for Coach Bowden to lose two grandchildren like he has in the past years and to lose a son, it’s devastating.”

Bowden, 84, built Florida State’s program from the ashes. The Seminoles were regular championship contenders during his tenure, winning two national championships.

Fisher is in his fourth season since taking over for Bowden.

“I think Bobby Bowden will always be a piece of Florida State,” Fisher said. “He made Florida State a national brand name. That’s the brand that the Florida State became was because of Coach Bowden, and it has allowed us to have the successes we’re having right now.”

■ HIGH SCHOOL HOPES — Auburn’s Gus Malzahn is proof coaches can succeed with college players after spending many years at the high school level.

He coached 14 prep seasons in Arkansas, appearing in seven state-championship games and winning three times.

“There’s some great high school coaches out there that just given the opportunity could be doing the exact same things I’m doing here,” Malzahn said. “I’m just one of the few that were blessed to get an opportunity to coach in college because the thing about football, the ‘X’s’ and ‘O’s’ and dealing with players, they’re exactly the same in high school as they are college.

“The biggest difference is dealing with the recruiting part, the media part and the boosters. But some of these big high schools also have some of that.”

Showing he hasn’t forgotten his background, Malzahn gave his first athletic director, Charlie Patrick, tickets to tonight’s game. Patrick hired Malzahn in 1991 at an Arkansas high school.

“I learned a lot from him,” Malzahn said. “When you get to this point, you always think back to the people that helped you get here. ... I’m a real blessed guy, and I’m not up here on my own.”

■ COACH SPEAK — Both coaches have been in the position before, but as assistants. Fisher was offensive coordinator on the 2003 Louisiana State team that won the BCS championship. Malzahn served in the same capacity in 2010 for Auburn’s title team.

Now both are in this position as head coaches for the first time.

“I’ll rely on my experiences in the past and the folks that I’ve been around and the things that I believe,” Fisher said. “We have a core belief system of how I want things done, and it’s worked all year, worked in the past three years, and we’ll do the same things. To me, whether it’s the national-championship game or the opening game of the year, it’s still a football game.”

Malzahn has a similar approach.

“I’m trying my best to enjoy the moment, but the bottom line is we’ve got a job to do,” Malzahn said. “As a coach, your responsibility is to have your team prepared as possible and to stay in that routine, and in this setting this week, obviously that’s a challenge. But our team and our coaches have done that all year, and I feel so far up to this point as a group we’ve done that.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.