Bielema Faces Bowden in Bowl Game
ORLANDO, Fla.(AP) -- Bobby Bowden's shins are safe.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema made that guarantee Wednesday in discussing his matchup against the legendary Florida State coach in the Champs Sports Bowl. The 38-year-old Bielema, who was seven when Bowden won his first bowl game, said he was honored to play Bowden and Penn State coach Joe Paterno in the same season.
"We'll treat him better than we did coach Paterno," Bielema joked. "Our first game against him we broke coach Paterno's leg on the sideline. We're not going to do any of that business."
Instead, his 7-5 Badgers will have other concerns.
"Everybody will build it up as the size of Wisconsin playing the speed of Florida State," he said.
Starting with Bowden.
"I compare them with a Boston College team that beat us," said Bowden, who coached the Seminoles to their NCAA-leading 27th straight bowl game. "Big. Big. A big physical team playing against a team that better be quick."
Seminoles quarterback Christian Ponder, who gave way to backup Drew Weatherford in the regular-season ending loss to Florida, will probably start, Bowden said.
Bielema, who said preparation will be the key for both teams, said he doesn't have a quarterback who can replicate Ponder's run-pass skills.
"I don't know if they have a 280-pound fullback," Bielema said smiling, referring to Badger's lead blocker Chris Pressley.
Both teams are looking to rebound from sub-standard runs.
FSU, 8-4, lost at least four games for the sixth time in eight years. Wisconsin was No. 8 before losing four straight Big Ten games and tied for sixth place in the conference.
"You look around the world of college football and there's time where teams are in those same, exact positions and failed to come through, and put a bad ending to a bad season," Bielema said. "To beat a team like Florida State would be a great redemption."
Orlando hosted Bowden's first bowl win, a 40-17 rout of Texas Tech in the 1977 Tangerine Bowl.
"I have great memories of Orlando," Bowden said. "It's kind of exciting getting back."
Bowden has grown exasperated with media reports that offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, his designated successor, is a leading candidate for several openings, most notably at Auburn.
"He's under contract to Florida State to stay at Florida State and he's agreed to do that," Bowden said. "I never heard him have any other idea. Y'all print stuff that he's being considered, well, anybody can say that. But what does he say? He says 'I haven't been contacted and aren't interested.'
"You guys are guilty of reading the newspapers."
Fisher signed a contract this year that stipulates he'll be the next FSU coach. If he leaves for another job, he'd have to pay a $5 million buyout. If he's not the FSU head coach by 2010, FSU owes him $2.5 million.
Bielema was the Badgers defensive coordinator when he was designated as the next head coach before Barry Alvarez' final season in 2005.
"Knowing how long (you have to wait) helps," Bielema said. "That was fortunate for us, knowing when it was going to happen, how it was going to happen."
The 79-year-old Bowden has been vague about his retirement plans. Asked about Wisconsin and FSU playing for the first time, Bowden said. "I'd like to coach long enough to play everybody."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)