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Bowden is a big Edwards fan

LaVell says he’d rather face foe in golf than football

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — BYU coach LaVell Edwards and Florida State coach Bobby Bowden first became acquainted over a round of golf in 1977 in Orlando, Fla.

"We've been friends since then," Bowden recalled. Back then, they were up-and-coming coaches with big dreams.

Twenty-three years later, Bowden, 70, and Edwards, 69, are college football icons. Saturday, their teams will square off in the 2000 Pigskin Classic at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville (kickoff is at 6 p.m. MDT). It will showcase two of the winningest coaches in the history of the game.

Edwards, who has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2000 season, wouldn't mind taking another trip to the golf course with Bowden.

"I'd like to propose to Bobby that we go and play an 18-hole golf match and count that as the game," Edwards joked. "After watching film of his team and watching his golf swing, I think I'd have a better chance at golf."

Bowden has nothing but praise for what Edwards has accomplished at BYU.

"I classify LaVell as one of the good guys, a guy that has done it right," said Bowden, who will receive the Vince Lombardi Outstanding College Coach Award on Friday. "I don't remember anything out of line with his program, and he gets along with people. I don't know of anybody who doesn't like LaVell. His teams have always been competitive. He's won championships of all types. He's had an illustrious career. I hate to see him get out, because I'm going to miss him."

Part of the reason the Pigskin Classic picked BYU and FSU for this year's game was the chance to pit two future Hall of Fame coaches against one another. In this age when coaches change jobs almost as often as they change their oil, Edwards and Bowden, along with Penn State's 73-year-old Joe Paterno, are a disappearing breed of coach. Edwards is in his 29th season at BYU, while Bowden is in his 25th at Florida State (he spent 10 previous seasons at Samford and West Virginia before arriving in Tallahassee).

Combined, Edwards and Bowden have won 555 games and three national championships. Bowden is No. 5 on the all-time coaching victories list. Edwards is four wins shy of moving into sixth place. (This fact from the Twilight Zone Department: Edwards' first victory at BYU, in 1972, was against Kansas State. Bowden's first victory at FSU, in 1976, was also Kansas State.)

Unlike Edwards, Bowden has no intention of hanging it up anytime soon — as long as he keeps on winning.

"No doubt about it, the winning has kept me in the game the last 13-14 years," said Bowden, who guided his team to the 1999 national title. "Had we been unsuccessful, I would not have lasted. Every time you lose a game, it chips something out of you. I think success has kept me in. If I can stay healthy and successful, give me a call in about 10 more years."


E-MAIL: jeffc@desnews.com