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Bowden's former players receive a Gator Bowl invite

Gator Bowl officials are making sure Bobby Bowden's former Florida State players have the chance to see his final game.

Gator Bowl officials are making sure Bobby Bowden's former Florida State players have the chance to see his final game.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported that the Gator Bowl Association and the host city of Jacksonville, Fla., had made complimentary tickets available to former Seminoles who played for Bowden. As of Wednesday, more than 300 had registered for the tickets.

Former safety Bill Ragans said he was grateful for the chance to go to the game. He says it's "a piece of history you want to be part of."

The former players will help lead Bowden onto the field and sit together in the end zone.

The Jan. 1 game sold out in two hours. The Seminoles face West Virginia.

Bowden, who started coaching at Florida State in 1976, announced his retirement on Dec. 1. He is five wins behind Penn State's Joe Paterno, who has the most major-college football victories with 393.

Full circle? If Wisconsin beats Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., Hurricanes fans may have an unlikely figure to blame: University of Miami president Donna Shalala.

Before she served as President Bill Clinton's health and human services secretary, Shalala was the University of Wisconsin-Madison chancellor who helped turn an embarrassing football team into a perennial Big Ten Conference contender.

Some are calling Tuesday's matchup "the Shalala Bowl."

Hawaii Bowl. Kyle Padron wasn't even born when the NCAA imposed the death penalty on Southern Methodist's football program. The school was banned from playing in 1987, and home games were banned in 1988 because players had been paid from a slush fund.

But the 18-year-old was there when the Mustangs came back to life.

"We have a football team again," he said.

The freshman threw for an SMU record of 460 yards, leading the Mustangs to a 45-10 upset victory over Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu on Thursday night - SMU's first postseason appearance in 25 years.

It was a triumphant return to the postseason and paradise for the Mustangs and second-year coach June Jones, who left Hawaii after nine seasons and has revived SMU's program.

Padron was named MVP.

"He showed a lot of composure. . . . He's learning, and his best football is ahead of him," Jones said.

Nevada linebacker Andre Davis, who did not play because he had been dismissed by the team, was arrested days earlier on suspicion of shoplifting.

The Honolulu police said Davis was detained by security personnel at a Waikiki store before he was turned over to authorities. Davis, who apologized to his team and family, was expected to be arraigned in January.