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Quote:ACC Preview: For Bowden, winning is everything

By Brian Murphy
Telegraph Staff Writer

Bobby Bowden has won more games than any college coach in Division I-A history, and the Florida State legend doesn't anticipate stopping anytime soon.

"I just want to keep winning. I couldn't stand it if I started losing a lot," Bowden said during the ACC Media Days. "I enjoy winning. I enjoy coaching. I think this is my 52nd year. I've known nothing else.

"I don't know what I'd do if I retired. I know what I'd do. If they fired me and I was healthy, I'd go get another job somewhere."

Bowden doesn't have to worry about being fired anytime soon. Unlike Joe Paterno at Penn State - his nearest competitor at 339 victories - Bowden hasn't shown any signs of slowing down.

The Seminoles won their 11th Atlantic Coast Conference title in 12 seasons and are picked to do so again this year, even with the addition of in-state rival Miami.

"We have high expectations at Florida State," junior linebacker A.J. Nicholson said. "If we don't win a championship, it feels like a failure to us. That's the kind of competitiveness we have here."

The Seminoles will find out quickly if this season can be a success or a failure. Florida State opens the season with Miami, a match-up of two top-10 teams on Sept. 6 - a Monday night.

With nine returning starters on offense, including all five linemen and quarterback Chris Rix, the Seminoles are well positioned for the huge opener.

After its run of success, the Seminoles aren't willing to concede the mantle of conference big dog easily.

"We're not going to give it to anybody," wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe said.

Taking it from them will be difficult. Bowden, after consecutive non-10-win seasons in 2001 and 2002, has the Seminoles restocked for another run at a national championship.

Rix threw for more than 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns last season. Thorpe had 51 receptions for 994 yards and 11 touchdowns. Both are back.

How deep are the Seminoles? Running back Lorenzo Booker, the top high school recruit in 2002, and linebacker Ernie Sims, the No. 1 recruit in 2003, are listed at second-teamers entering fall practice.

That should leave Bowden feeling as good as he has in years.

"If you win 10, you feel better than if you won nine. If you won nine, you feel better than if you won eight. Last year we won more games than the year before and the year before, so I enjoyed it more," Bowden said.

"But it's all based on winning to me."
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