COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Holtz vs. Bowden. It sounds like a grand rivalry, rich in college football tradition and filled with title talk.
But Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, who's preparing to face South Carolina's Lou Holtz for the first time, feels that legacy belongs to his father, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.
After all, Tommy was a little cuss when Holtz and his wife, Beth, came to stay at the Bowden's Tallahassee, Fla., home for a night in 1963. Tommy was in high school in 1970 when Holtz chewed out Bobby, then coaching West Virginia, for running up the score on Holtz's William & Mary club.
Bowden was a receiver for his father in 1975 when West Virginia topped Holtz and North Carolina State in the Peach Bowl. And he was Auburn's offense coordinator in 1993 when Holtz's Fighting Irish nearly derailed Bobby Bowden's national championship dreams, upsetting the No. 1 Seminoles 31-24.
"I've never coached on a staff with (Holtz), never really recruited against him until last year, never played him," Bowden said. "I've always been on the fringe with him."
Bowden can only hope to duplicate his father's 4-2 mark against Holtz.
Fans hope Saturday's game at Williams-Brice Stadium is the first of many between the two coaches.
A Clemson (5-5) victory would qualify them for a bowl game, would be its third straight overall and sixth consecutive in Columbia. A South Carolina (0-10) win would end a 20-game losing streak and prevent it from being the first Southeastern Conference team to go 0-11.
"No one has to tell me the importance of this game," Holtz says.
The game has been overshadowed by the tragic shooting, which police are saying was self inflicted, of Clemson runner Javis Austin. Surgeons had to remove one of his eyes and was still in critical but stable condition at Anderson Area Medical Center on Friday.
Holtz sees the similarities between Tommy and Bobby Bowden, especially in their offense and the way they win. The hurry-up, no-huddle attack Clemson's uses is lot like Bobby Bowden's at Florida State when Holtz won in 1993.
"(Tommy) is a tremendous coach who has done a tremendous job with them this season," Holtz said.
Holtz and Bowden linked themselves a year ago when they pledged to restore their teams' winning traditions. Alumni, fans and boosters have reminded both how essential it is to defeat their rival each year.
Clemson, buried in the upper northwest corner of the state, has blocked out much of the Lou-mania that swept the rest of the state. National writers lined up this summer in Columbia to talk to Holtz, then invariably trucked up to see Bowden.
Bowden hasn't noticed, "but my wife might have," he said.
Maybe that's why Linda Bowden wrote to talk-show Regis Philbin after he had talked up his friend, Holtz, on coast-to-coast television this spring. She wrote there was another new coach in South Carolina making a mark.
"He's won a national championship, I've got 23 wins," Bowden said. "He ought to get more publicity. He does magic, he's been on David Letterman, he's been on Johnny Carson."
Tommy's father, Bobby, says he's wanted to call Holtz at times this season as a friend would to ask about his wife's health and pass on condolences the recent death of Holtz's mom.
But "I'm reluctant with Tommy up there at Clemson, to talk to Lou," the elder Bowden said. Bobby says he'll catch up with Holtz after the year.
The Clemson-South Carolina game seems clear cut. South Carolina has scored six touchdowns all season. Clemson scored six touchdowns last week in a 45-42 loss at Georgia Tech.
The Gamecocks defense ranks third in the SEC, but the Tigers have scored 14 points against Florida State and 11 against Virginia Tech -- both enough to win all but one game against South Carolina this season.
Clemson has scored 100 points its past two games. "That looks good for a season to me," Holtz said.
Right now, the only thing Holtz and Bowden have in common is one day making this game a national draw between two top-ranked teams. A coaching rivalry? Maybe one day, Tommy Bowden says, but not now.
"I'm 45, he's 62, there's not a lot of things we would do, if we were friends, together," Bowden said. "I'd jog and he'd nap. He'd be like Daddy."
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