- Jake Elman Special to The Post
As an older coach from the pre-social media generation, Akron coach Terry Bowden — son of legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden — should hate Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin’s Twitter antics and “expert trolling.”
Bowden’s true feelings? People who have never coached overreact to Kiffin’s “rat poison” and “#cometothefaU” tweets.
“You learn something in this game early: you don’t give a flip what the other people’s fans care about because they don’t like you no matter what you do,” Bowden said on Wednesday. “You only care about what your fans feel about you.”
Bowden’s Akron Zips (7-6, 6-2 in the MAC) will play Kiffin’s Owls (10-3, 9-0 in Conference USA) in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 19.
In town for an official press conference featuring both coaches and Boca Bowl Executive Director Doug Mosley, Bowden expressed his respect for Kiffin, who has led the Owls to more wins this season (10) than they had in the past three seasons combined (nine).
“The bad part of coming down here is we’re playing FAU and I think it’s probably the hottest team in the country,” Bowden said. “I think Lane’s probably just done the best job in America, if not one of the top two jobs as a head coach in America.”
Kiffin joked that Bowden’s praise was “rat poison.”
“Don’t listen to that and don’t stream that to our players please,” Kiffin said with a laugh.
Bowden, a former head coach at Auburn, specifically praised Kiffin’s ability to manage distractions, including rumors he would leave after one season for a bigger school. Though Kiffin has not officially interviewed at other programs, his name has been linked to openings at numerous schools, including Oregon, now that Willie Taggart has left to coach Florida State, Tennessee - where he was the head coach in 2009 - and the now-filled UCLA spot.
“If you’re gonna be in this business as long as he has, you’re gonna learn how to handle distractions,” Bowden said. “The one thing you gotta remember: if they’re not talking about you or your name’s not being mentioned, you’re not doing a very good job. You learn how to handle it by just knowing what they are and they’re just rumors.”
Bowden then drew a comparison between himself and Kiffin as both are sons of legendary football coaches. Lane’s father, Monte, was a Super Bowl winning defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2008 and currently is a pro liaison for FAU.
Terry said his father, who last coached in 2009 with the Seminoles, will join the Zips in Boca Raton after they arrive next week.
“I had a father that went through it every day and (Lane) had a father going through it,” Bowden said. “You learn to handle rumors pretty early in your career.”