Even in his late 80s, former Florida State Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden can spot talent with the best of them.
In Lane Kiffin, the well-traveled head coach who has Florida Atlantic in their first bowl game since 2008, the Owls have found a gem, according to Bowden.
“Lane’s done a heck of a job, I can’t believe it!” said Bowden, 88, who retired after the 2009 season. “Really, I can believe it because I’m seeing it happen, but he stepped right in and brought them a championship.”
Kiffin, whose previous head coaching job was with USC in 2013, has guided the Owls (10-3) to more wins this season than the team had from 2014-16 combined (nine). Florida Atlantic will play the Akron Zips (7-6) — led by Bobby’s son, Terry — in Tuesday’s Boca Raton Bowl.
FAU’s ten wins are a program best since moving to the Division I level in 2004. A win Tuesday would tie the program record of 11 set in 2003.
“I was surprised somebody didn’t (hire Kiffin away) this year,” Bowden said. “You see (former FSU coach Jimbo Fisher) is making $7 million, these other guys are making five, and I really think (Kiffin is) going to be in that class.”
Monday’s Boca Raton Bowl luncheon, which honored former University of Miami quarterback and Cardinal Newman High School coach Steve Walsh with the Palm Beach County Football Legends Award, saw two famous football families in the Bowdens and Kiffins unite. Both Bobby and Terry took pictures with Lane and his, Monte, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator who currently serves as the Owls pro liaison.
“I have followed (Lane’s) progress now through the years,” Bowden said. “He’s a different man today than he was 10-15 years ago.”
Woods invited to NFLPA Bowl: Fifth-year FAU senior receiver Kalib Woods will try to continue raising his NFL Draft stock after accepting an invite to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Monday.
Woods, who was suspended for the season’s first six games following an offseason nightclub fight, has 20 catches for 540 yards and four touchdowns since returning in an Oct. 21 win over North Texas. Prior to the incident, Woods was projected as a potential late-round pick entering this season with a chance to climb draft boards.
Two of Woods’ ex-teammates, Lucky Whitehead (2015) and Sharrod Neasman (2016), each used the NFLPA Bowl as a steppingstone to the NFL.