Clemson University

Tommy Bowden works bowl game in Baghdad

Tommy Bowden will miss his father's final game coaching Florida State, with good reason. With Bobby Bowden's blessing, too.

The former Clemson coach, along with Barry Switzer, Rocket Ismail, Bruce Smith, Ty Detmer and others, are in Baghdad for a New Year's Day game - "Salute The Troops," it's being called - with hopes of providing American soldiers a reminder of what bowl season is like back home.

Players and coaches flew to Kuwait City this week, then headed to Baghdad, where the game is scheduled to take place at Camp Victory, which has hosted a slew of other visits from sports figures in recent years. The event is sponsored by the USO and Tostitos, and will be aired Monday during halftime of the TCU-Boise State Fiesta Bowl matchup.

"I already had a strong, strong appreciation of the sacrifices that the military makes," Tommy Bowden said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "I'm going to get a firsthand taste of what it's like to be away from home in the holidays. These people put their lives on the line for the ultimate sacrifice. I'm going to come back with a greater appreciation of what these people, our troops, are giving up in order for us to live a life of comfort."

Tommy Bowden committed to participating in the game long before it was known his father's coaching career also would end Friday in the Gator Bowl against West Virginia. Bobby Bowden said he was thrilled with his son's decision to visit the troops, and suggested a trip to Iraq might be in his own future.

"I told Tommy, 'When you get over there, you tell them I want to go over there,' so I wouldn't be surprised if I get an invitation sometime in the next year," Bobby Bowden said this week in Jacksonville, Fla., where the Gator Bowl will be held. "Those guys really appreciate it."

- The Associated Press