His secretary picked up the phone and said it wouldn't be a problem to ask him a few questions. The Florida State fight song blasted from the receiver while on hold and was only interrupted to give information on season tickets.
The next voice heard was a deep southern accent, easily recognizable as the winningest coach in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history.
Bobby Bowden didn't shy away from any questions, making sure he answered them candidly and professionally. He talked about his past, his future, his relationship with athletes and his relationship with Penn State's own legendary coach, Joe Paterno.
The two giants of the sport have combined to stalk the sidelines for more than 100 seasons of college football. As rivals on the gridiron, Bowden has amassed 373 victories, one clear of Paterno's 372, and miles ahead of any other current coach among major colleges.
At 78 years of age, Bowden may be the only coach that can relate to the 81-year-old Paterno, and vice versa. They have experienced the ups-and-downs of leading prestigious football programs, both on and off the field.
But as time winds down on their coaching careers, media scrutiny has intensified over their respective futures. Bowden has accepted coaching on a year-to-year basis with a successor waiting when he retires, while Paterno is still negotiating a new contract and has not been involved in a succession plan.
In a recent telephone interview, Bowden discussed the differences in the game over the past 50 years and the similarities between himself and the legendary Nittany Lion coach.
Now and Then
When Bowden first became head coach of the Howard College Bulldogs in 1959, he was a spry 29-year-old, 10 years removed from college.
Now, 49 years later, Bowden still patrols the Florida State sidelines with the same mindset as the first day on the job.
"I'm one of those guys who never had the desire to retire," Bowden said. "College football has a way to remotivate you every year. To know you haven't lost a game yet and know you can put a winner on the field every year keeps you motivated.
"I signed a five-year contract and now I can sign one-year deals until I'm ready to retire, and I'm not ready to step away anytime soon."
Despite his undying passion for the game, the Seminoles' coach has changed his role on the team, adjusting to the times.
"I stopped calling plays about 15 years ago and handed over the responsibility to the assistant coaches," Bowden said. "I delegated everything over to them because I just can't see everything I used to. I make suggestions when I notice something, but I wish I had time to be more away from meetings to be more involved."
In recent years Paterno has admitted to working more out of his house instead of at the team's facilities. He has stated he is not up to date with technology and doesn't have e-mail.
But still, Bowden and Paterno have no problem receiving respect from their players, all of whom have grown up in a technologically advanced world.
Bowden said that there is no difference in respect from the time he was 30 to today because the kids respect everything he and his coaches have accomplished.
"Both Joe and I have raised a lot of kids, in our family and on the football field," Bowden said. "I have six children and 21 grandchildren so I know what kids of that age go through. Joe had about the same amount of children as I did, and we understand how to communicate with all of them.
"If you treat the players like your own kids, they will give you respect."
While the '80s and '90s brought great success to both programs -- Penn State won two national championships in the '80s and Florida State won two in the '90s -- the turn of the century has added controversy to both colleges.
Penn State's off-field issues of the past three years have been well documented. As recent as last week, the Lions dismissed two players, each of whom has had run-ins with the law.
Florida State has battled with its own issues during this span, including a cheating scandal in December. The scandal led to 25 Seminoles being suspended from the Music City Bowl later that month.
"Those distractions bother you on the field, but it's part of coaching," Bowden said. "Coaches are there to solve these problems though, and you just have to accept it at times.
"I've been coaching 55 years, Joe 57 years at one school, and the disposition and attitude of the players is the biggest difference. The players' situations are so complex and distractions are everywhere. The things kids can get into now is so much more than before, and you just can't control them all."
Penn State President Graham Spanier dismissed the speculation of a succession plan for Paterno last month at a Board of Trustees meeting. Paterno has said he wants to coach as long as possible, but with his contract ending after this season, fans are curious about the next coach of Penn State football.
Such is not the case in Tallahassee.
Bowden brought in offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher from Louisiana State University after the 2006-2007 season. Last season, Florida State President T.K. Wetherell outlined a succession plan for Fisher to become the next Seminole head coach when Bowden retires.
"Jimbo's entering his second year, but I had never thought about [a succession plan]," Bowden said. "I signed the one-year contract and have no desire to get out, but our president discussed it with me and outlined the plan."
The plan allows Bowden to continue signing one-year contracts until he decides to retire.
The plan has been an overwhelming success, Bowden said.
"It's worked out great for everyone, including me," Bowden said. "When we go see recruits I can tell them that even though I may not be there for their entire careers, Jimbo will be. The kids are handled and are comforted knowing someone will be there."
Competition with Paterno
Bowden and Paterno have been No. 1 and No. 2 on the all-time wins list since Bowden passed Paul "Bear" Bryant in August of 2002.
The "rivalry" was on full display in the 2006 Orange Bowl when Penn State beat Florida State, 26-23, in a triple-overtime thriller. The win gave Paterno a 7-1 record against Bowden.
"I first met Joe when I was an assistant coach with Howard in 1962," Bowden said. "When I was at West Virginia, Joe beat us every time and for good reason. We finally beat him in the 1990 Blockbuster Bowl."
Bowden added that he and Paterno are good friends and meet at least once a year because they are both Nike consultants. He said because they are about the same age, they spend most of their time together when at the yearly meetings.
With Bowden holding only a one-game lead over Paterno in career wins, some fans wonder if each man is trying to outlast the other.
But no matter how his career ends, Bowden will appreciate everything in his football life.
"I have a great deal of respect for Joe and wouldn't want anyone else at the top," Bowden said. "There's nobody behind us, so it's going to be one of us. There couldn't be a better person to finish with more wins than me.
"If Joe were to resign, it wouldn't change my decision, and if I were to resign, I know it wouldn't affect Joe's future. I've never lost a minute of sleep over who was at the top, and if he finishes with more wins, I still won't lose a minute."