Bowden plans to return Rix to No. 1 quarterback

Published: Friday, January 3, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 3, 2003 at 12:17 a.m.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Florida State coach Bobby Bowden doesn't want an unstable quarterback situation again next season and plans to install suspended Chris Rix back into the starting job in spring drills.

"We'll monitor him now as good as we can ... we've got to now," Bowden said Thursday.

Bowden said Rix let the team down when he failed to take a final exam and was suspended for the Sugar Bowl, but plans to open the spring with Rix as the Seminoles No. 1 quarterback.

"We've gotta make sure he don't miss nothing," Bowden said. "There is no excuse. He has simply got to be there.

"We expect them to get up and go to class, we expect them to go eat," Bowden said.

Fabian Walker, who made his first collegiate start in a 26-13 Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia on Wednesday, will be No. 2 and redshirt freshman Wyatt Sexton the third-team quarterback.

"We'll work those three," Bowden said, adding he will keep Anquan Boldin at wide receiver.

Bowden said Walker would've gone into the spring drills as No. 1 if the Seminoles would've won against Georgia.

"If we would've won the game, I would've said 'we're pretty danged good, but we've been unlucky,'" Bowden said. "By not winning, I can't say that."

Rix, a rising junior, regained his starting job in the season finale against Florida and led the Seminoles to a 31-14 victory.

"We never got our quarterbacks stabilized until the last game with Florida and then we lose him," Bowden said Thursday before leaving New Orleans.

Rix started nine games and Adrian McPherson made four starts before he was kicked off the team in November after allegedly stealing a blank check from a Tallahassee, Fla. business. McPherson has asked for and given his release by Bowden.

Senior tackle Brett Williams, a Rix friend, said the quarterback has his work cut out for him winning back disappointed teammates.

"He's got to start all over again," Williams said Thursday. "It's going to be a big chore."

Williams hopes Rix, the 2001 Atlantic Coast Conference freshman of the year, can find a leadership role with the team.

"The talent is there if he wants to put it together," Williams said. "The sky is the limit."

Bowden, 73, also remains optimistic and plans to plunge ahead with recruiting. He'll tell players he plans to coach at least another four or five years.

"I have absolutely no desire to retire," he said.

Despite Florida State's 9-5 season _ its most losses in 21 years _ Bowden believes the Seminoles are on the cusp of being back among the nation's elite.

"I think we're real close, real close," Bowden said.

"I swear I can never remember the things that happened to us this year," Bowden said. "There were so many odd things that happened to us."

He does have most of this year's team returning.

The big losses come on the offensive line where Brett Williams, Todd Williams, Montrae Holland, and Antoine Mirambeau all played in college the final time.

But Holland and Mirambeau were hurt much of the year, giving younger players the opportunity for playing time.

They also should get tailback Greg Jones, who is recovering from knee surgery, back along with redshirt freshman Lorenzo Booker, who will battle Jones and Leon Washington for playing time at tailback.

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