On Wednesday, Aug. 2, BYU head coach LaVell Edwards and Florida State head coach participated in a questions-and-answer session with national media. Edwards and Bowden will square off as two of the all-time coaching greats in the 2000 Pigskin Classic in Jacksonville, Fla., on Aug. 26.
Q: [to Coach Bowden] You mentioned earlier that you see BYU as a dangerous team. Could you elaborate on that? Why are they a dangerous team?
Bowden: Because of their style of play. They have always thrown the ball around. Any team that can throw and catch is a threat. Brigham Young can throw and catch as well as any team in the country.
Q: [to Coach Edwards] What's tougher: losing a long-time offensive coordinator or having to start with a new quarterback?
Edwards: You lose a long-time assistant, and that will usually hurt your team, but one thing we've had is longevity on our staff. Losing one person isn't too much of a problem for us. The difficulty of starting with a new quarterback is that you can't manufacture experience. You can practice, scrimmage, and prepare all you want, but it doesn't compare to an actual game day situation.
Q: Do you think playing a team like Florida State will help accelerate the maturation process or will it backfire?
Edwards: I think it has more of a tendency to backfire than to help. It would be easier if their defense wasn't so good. The thing they've got is speed, and that's hard to prepare for.
Q: Both of you have been coaching for a number of years, and the question seems to arise as to what keeps you going in the profession. What keeps the fire stoked?
Bowden: All I know is I have the same desire now as I had last year, and as far as I can remember, the same as 10 years ago. I still get nervous butterflies in my stomach getting ready for that first game. As far as fulfilling records, there's never been a record where I've said 'As soon as I reach that I'll retire.' Retiring has never crossed my mind.
Edwards: I feel much the same as Bobby. That's probably as close an explanation as I could get to myself. One of these days it'll be time to hang it up. Whether we get another victory or win another bowl game or another record is not important. The real issue is that I still enjoy it.
Q: Would both of you please assess the limitations and difficulties of playing in preseason games with the limited preparation time?
Edwards: We actually don't have any fewer practices than for a regular season opener. The NCAA regulates the number of practices based on the first game or the first day of classes. It does cut in on the summer a little, and some of the guys will have to leave their jobs early. I think the big thing for us in this game is not only playing a great team, but playing in the weather down there. Then we have to face Virginia that next week.
Bowden: I'd rather start later, but we can't. Some years you like these preseason games and some you don't. Coach Edwards really wanted me to come to Provo for this one, but there's no way I'd do that. He has too much of an advantage out there.
Q: [to Edwards] Do you think there is any advantage to getting the defending national champion fresh out of the gate?
Edwards: I don't think it has any bearing at all. A lot of it is how your players perceive their need to prepare for the opening game. The opening game is, a lot of the time, a crapshoot anyway. You can never accurately predict how either team will play.
Q: [to Bowden] Does playing someone of BYU's quality right after winning a national championship make you ripe for an upset?
Bowden: We don't know exactly what he's gonna do, and he doesn't know what we're gonna do. We have a lot of time to prepare for this game, and a number of adjustments can be made. I don't think being national champs is an advantage or a disadvantage. It does give them something to shoot for, though.
Q: [to Edwards] What's different about preparing for Florida State this time than what you did for your last meeting (the 1991 Pigskin Classic)?
Edwards: Well, you take a look at game film and you can't tell if they have Peter Warrick or who they have out there. They have so many guns and so much speed. You don't know at all what they'll be doing, so it's difficult to get ready for them.
Q: [to Bowden] Is your program at the point now that you don't even worry about the opposition anymore, but concentrate instead on what your team is doing?
Bowden: I'm a lot more concerned about what we're doing than what someone else is doing. We've got a new football team that's got its own identity, so they will have to go out and establish that identity. We're going to study very hard to try and anticipate what they're going to do, but you've got to make sure your guys know what they're doing first.
Q: [to Edwards] It seems that recently you are making an effort to play more teams in the southeast, with FSU and Virginia this year and Georgia Tech coming up. Is this by design, and if so, why?
Edwards: I think the athletic director has talked about wanting to get in different parts of the country for the exposure. Frankly, I'd just as soon not go down there and play, because of the weather and other reasons, but we've got those games on the schedule so we'll do it. I think we may have gotten a little carried away this year with the schedule.
Q: [to Edwards] Will you have an advantage at the beginning of conference play after having played against speed early in the season?
Edwards: I think if we can get through this early part healthy, the experience will definitely help us, but if we get banged up it will be tough. Arizona learned about that a few years ago, when they came in ranked number four and played Penn State to start the season, then came out with a bunch of injuries. It could work either way for us.
Q: [to Edwards] Despite all your accomplishments, your name is not always mentioned along with those of your peers in college football. How have you dealt with a dynasty that's still not in the forefront?
Edwards: I've never really worried about it. I think we've gotten our fair share of recognition, and when we win a few games we're generally in the polls. In 1984, it was a culmination of us going undefeated and some other teams losing a couple of games. National perception, honestly, has not been a concern of mine.