Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden died on Friday, but he will always be remembered for his iconic coaching career.
Florida State legend Bobby Bowden is one of the most iconic figures in college football history. He led Florida State to a national championship and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Read more in detail here: florida seminoles.
Bobby Bowden recalls longtime Florida State supporter David Mobley, an Atlanta accountant, informing him that he had taken on one of the famous coach’s former players, Tom Pridemore, as a client.
Bowden told Mobley, “Tommy Pridemore’s mother cooked the greatest rabbit and biscuits I’ve ever eaten.”
Pridemore, now 65, had played safety under Bowden almost 30 years ago at West Virginia.
Bowden asked Demetro Stephens the same question every time he ran into him, even after the former Seminoles linebacker had graduated: “Is your grandpa still cooking that apple pie?”
During a house visit in Pensacola, Florida, in January 1991, Bowden was attempting to acquire renowned linebacker Derrick Brooks when Brooks’ younger sister, Latoya, fell asleep on the couch. Bowden put the young girl’s head on his knee without moving his gaze away from Brooks’ mother, Geraldine. Brooks knew he was going to Florida State the moment he saw his mother’s expression.
Bowden’s characteristic Southern charm and compassion won over parents and grandparents alike in living rooms for more than a half-century. It’s why he was considered as one of the finest closers in recruiting, and it’s why he was able to create one of the greatest college football dynasties in history. Bowden never forgot a name or what one of his players’ mothers prepared for him.
“When you were recruiting against him, you had no chance,” said North Carolina coach Mack Brown, who played at Florida State and coached against Bowden during his first stint with the Tar Heels from 1988 to 1997. “You knew you had to keep an eye on him while he was in the house.”
Bowden, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the father of one of the sport’s most renowned coaching dynasties, died of pancreatic cancer on Sunday morning. He was 91 years old when he died. Bowden was diagnosed with a fatal disease last month, according to his family.
“On and off the field, I’ve always tried to fulfill God’s purpose for my life, and I’m prepared for what’s next,” Bowden said in a statement in July. “Life’s greatest gift has been my wife Ann and our family; I am at peace.”
Bowden has a legacy that extends well beyond football and his coaching career. Bowden, who was well-known for his folksy charm and clever one-liners, spent many Sunday mornings speaking at church pulpits throughout the nation, taking use of his high position to help promote his Christian beliefs. Bowden’s national citizenship award was named after him by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2003.
Bowden told ESPN in 2009, “Faith is the most important thing in the world to me.” “It’s my greatest strength; it’s helped me get through the tough times. You’re not going to win every one of your football games. I’ve always said I’m not going to make football my god. A lot of coaches put everything they have into coaching football games that they have nothing left. I’ve never made football my priority; my priorities are my faith and my dependence on God.”
That was a lesson Bowden attempted to instill in his players, despite the fact that he was chastised for it by some.
Andre Wadsworth, an All-American defensive end at Florida State in 1997, stated, “Coach Bowden was a father figure to all of us.” “From the first day, he told us he didn’t want us sleeping with women because he believed sex should be saved for marriage; he told us he didn’t want us drinking, even after we turned 21; he told us he would treat us all like his sons, and he did; he cared about us more than he cared about football.”
Bowden’s views had an impact on more than simply Florida State’s athletes.
Former Georgia and Miami coach Mark Richt, a longtime assistant under Bowden, stated, “He’s the most important guy in my life, next to my father.” “He showed me the way to a relationship with Jesus, and he gave me an opportunity to coach football at a Power 5 school as a young 25-year-old guy with no experience. I didn’t realize how special it was just to observe him for 15 years as a man of God, a family man, and one of the greatest coaches in college football history. I couldn’t have broken into the business any other way.”
Except for Joe Paterno, who won 409 games in 46 seasons at Penn State, Bowden’s 377 wins at Howard College (now Samford University), West Virginia, and Florida State are the most of any major college football coach. Bowden led his Florida State teams to a 315-98-4 record (the Seminoles were forced to forfeit 12 victories due to NCAA infractions), 12 ACC crowns, and two national championships in 1993 and 1999. Bowden was first among active coaches in winning percentage in bowl games (68.8%), second in bowl wins (22) and second in bowl appearances (22) when he resigned following the 2009 season (33).
Bowden guided his teams to bowl games for 27 successive seasons, including a record 15 consecutive participation in prestigious New Year’s Day bowl games. During that time period, Bowden’s teams won 11 straight bowl games. He’s also the first coach in NCAA history to lead a team to at least 10 wins in 14 consecutive seasons.
Richt said, “We knew things were nice, but we probably didn’t understand how wonderful they were.” “Everybody knew Coach Bowden was in charge, and he didn’t have to try to impose his will on anybody. I think players felt that way, and I think coaches felt that way. There are a lot of different leadership styles, including some that have to remind you who’s the boss every day. Everybody knew Coach Bowden was in charge, and he didn’t have to try to impose his will on anybody.
That wasn’t to say Bowden wasn’t a tough competitor. Brown remembered a game between Florida State and North Carolina in 1997, when the Seminoles were rated No. 2 and the Tar Heels were ranked No. 5. Before the clash of unbeaten teams at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Brown and Bowden met at middle.
Bowden told Brown, “I never imagined I’d see this, boy.” “This is very amazing; this place is filled two hours before the game, so you must be feeling quite good.”
Bowden was suffering from a sore back at the time and had to coach from a stool for the most of the game.
Brown informed him, “Coach, I’m not sure whether we can defeat you or not.” “However, my objective for tonight is to get you off that stool.”
Bowden said, “You’ve got a terrific squad.” “I’m not sure whether you’ll be able to pull me off that stool; it’ll be difficult.”
Bowden may have stood up twice that night, first at halftime and again in the final seconds of Florida State’s 20-3 win.
Bobby Bowden led Florida State to national titles in 1993 and 1999. Doug Mills/AP Photo/Doug Mills/AP Photo/Doug Mills/AP Photo/Doug Mill
Bowden’s football program’s success helped Florida State become one of the country’s biggest public institutions. FSU was known as the Florida State College for Women from 1909 until 1947, when it became a coed institution. FSU didn’t start playing football until 1947, more than four decades after the University of Florida began, and didn’t start awarding sports scholarships until 1951.
Bowden coached 26 consensus All-Americans, including numerous college football’s most prestigious individual honors winners. The 1993 Heisman Trophy was won by Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward, who guided the Seminoles to their first national title. In 2000, Chris Weinke, Bowden’s first three-year starter at quarterback, won the Heisman Trophy. Ward and Weinke were two of three Seminoles quarterbacks to win the Johnny Unitas Award during Bowden’s tenure, while Seminoles players also won the Thorpe, Butkus, Davey O’Brien, Lou Groza, and Lombardi trophies.
FSU became one of the best training grounds for future NFL players under Bowden’s leadership. From 1984 through 2009, a Seminoles player was chosen in the NFL draft every year, with 30 being first-round picks and more over 150 when Bowden took over the team.
Bowden was away from his wife and six children because of football, although three of his sons played on his college teams and subsequently went on to coach. Tommy Bowden was the coach at Tulane and Clemson in 1998, when the Green Wave went undefeated. Terry has coached at Salem (West Virginia) College, Samford University, Auburn, North Alabama, and Akron, and this will be his first season as the head coach at Louisiana Monroe. He led Auburn to an undefeated season in 1993. From 1994 through 2006, Jeff served as wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator on his father’s Florida State team.
Bobby Bowden claims he never put any pressure on his kids to follow in his footsteps as coaches.
In 2009, Bowden stated, “I didn’t push them to be coaches, and I didn’t want them to go into coaching.” “I didn’t want to compete with them, and I didn’t want them to compete with one another.”
Bobby and Tommy Bowden were on opposing sides of the field when Florida State and Clemson played for the first time in 1999. The “Bowden Bowl” was the first major collegiate football match between father and son coaches. FSU won 17-14, the first of Bobby Bowden’s four consecutive wins against his son’s teams. In 2003, Tommy’s Clemson squad defeated No. 3 Florida State 26-10, knocking the Seminoles out of the national title chase on Bobby Bowden’s 74th birthday.
Before Tommy Bowden was forced to quit as Clemson’s coach halfway through the 2008 season, Bobby Bowden held a 5-4 lead against his son in head-to-head matchups. (Bobby Bowden never coached a game against Terry.) Ultimately, the Bowden Bowl’s strain was too much for the family’s matriarch.
In 2005, Tommy Bowden stated, “You see blood hurting, spouse or son.” “Someone is suffering Sunday, and it reflects on her. We are paid well to hurt, but she doesn’t.”
Robert Cleckler “Bobby” Bowden was born on November 8, 1929, in Birmingham, Alabama. Bob Bowden, his father, worked at Birmingham’s First National Bank. Sunset Cleckler Bowden, his mother, was a stay-at-home mom. Bowden’s father survived the Great Depression, but his grandpa, a house builder, went bankrupt and had to move into the family’s home in Birmingham’s Woodlawn neighborhood.
Bobby Bowden spent many autumn nights as a kid with his father on the roof of his family’s garage. Bowden could view the practice fields of Woodlawn High School, which boasted the finest football team in the city, from the roof, which offered a platform over the hedges. Bob Bowden’s Sunday school lesson at the local Baptist church was attended by several of Woodlawn High’s athletes.
Bob Bowden and his family relocated to Birmingham’s East Lake neighborhood in 1934, to a house approximately a half-block from Howard College. Bobby Bowden began playing football at the YMCA when he was nine years old. On Sunday afternoons, a group of local lads would gather at Howard College’s practice grounds for a game of touch football. Harry Gilmer, who would later become his favorite player as the University of Alabama’s great quarterback, was one of the East Lake youngsters who played with Bowden.
“I’ve lived close to a football field my whole life,” Bowden said ESPN in 2007. “I had no other knowledge.”
Bowden was diagnosed with rheumatic fever when he was 13 years old, and his knees swelled. He remained in the hospital for six months and was bedridden for almost a year when he came home. Bowden acquired a passion for, of all things, war while in bed. Radio news from distant battlefields in France, Germany, and other areas of Europe captivated him throughout World War II. Bowden imagined battles in his imagination and pondered generals’ tactics in the absence of television.
“I essentially listened to a play-by-play of World War II for a year,” Bowden stated in Julie and Jim Bettinger’s book “The Book of Bowden.” “I would picture what every location looked like: the battlefield topography, army formations, and the sounds and smells of the war; I had a fairly good map in my mind of where things were in Europe, and I even started to understand whose generals were commanding certain troops.”
During his illness, Bowden acquired a strong passion for college football. On Saturday afternoons, he listened to radio broadcasts of Alabama football games. Bowden’s father gave him a football strategy board game, and he often acted out games he heard on the radio. Bowden aspired to one day play under Frank Thomas, the Crimson Tide’s coach from 1931 to 1946. Bowden, on the other hand, had to persuade his physicians that he was well enough to return to athletics.
After recuperating from rheumatic illness in 1945, Bowden enrolled at Woodlawn High School. Bowden’s doctors recommended him from participating in athletics, so he concentrated his efforts on music. He was a trombone in the school’s marching band and first chair in the orchestra. Bowden performed with the Lee Jordan Band at the Rose Club’s Saturday night dances. He aspired to be a member of the University of Alabama’s “Million Dollar Band,” and spent the summer of 1945 in band camp in Tuscaloosa.
Of course, “Yea, Alabama!” was Bowden’s favorite tune, and he would subsequently sing the Crimson Tide’s battle song to soothe his nerves before games during his first season as head coach at West Virginia in 1970. That was how much he adored Alabama.
Bowden told ESPN in 2007 that “there was no other school” for him. “I was so invested that I recall weeping and begging to God, ‘Please help them win.’”
Bowden guided his teams to bowl games for 27 successive seasons, including a record 15 consecutive participation in prestigious New Year’s Day bowl games. Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire photo
Only playing football was more enjoyable for Bowden. Bowden convinced his parents to seek a second opinion from physicians before his sophomore year of high school. Bowden’s parents were assured that their son’s heart might be repaired, so he tried out for the Woodlawn High varsity squad in 1946. Bowden fractured his thumb right away and missed the whole sophomore season. The next season, he returned and established himself as one of the city’s finest halfbacks.
In 1948, Bowden received a football scholarship at Alabama. H.D. had taken over as Howard’s replacement. When Bowden was a freshman with the Crimson Tide, he was still living his dream of playing for “Red” Drew.
Bowden only stayed at Tuscaloosa for one semester. He was soon homesick for Julia Ann Estock, his high school love and future wife of more than 72 years. Bowden, 19, and Estock, 16, eloped on April 1, 1949, with Bowden driving his father’s gleaming new Ford to a Rising Fawn, Georgia, church. Bowden knew he couldn’t stay on scholarship at Alabama since he was married, so he moved to Howard College, which was only a few streets away from his parents’ house.
Bowden spent four seasons at Howard College (now Samford University) as a halfback and quarterback. In 1949, his teams finished 4-5, 2-8 in 1950, and 2-3-1 in 1951. After guiding Howard to a 5-4 record as a senior in 1952, he was awarded “Little All-America.”
Bowden obtained his master’s degree while traveling to Peabody College in Nashville after graduating from Howard College in 1953. He and Ann had a growing family as well. Robyn, their eldest daughter, was born in 1951, and Steve, their oldest son, was born in 1952. While Bowden and his wife completed school, the kids remained with Bowden’s parents.
Bowden returned to his alma school in 1954, earning $3,600 per year as an assistant football coach and head track coach. In 1956, he left Howard to become the athletic director and football coach at South Georgia Junior College, where he was a three-time state champion. In 1959, Bowden returned to Howard as head football coach, inheriting a squad that had lost six straight seasons. In four seasons, he went 31-6.
Bowden often went to Tuscaloosa to watch the Crimson Tide practice while coaching at Howard. Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant of Alabama became Bowden’s hero. Bowden was a favorite of Bryant’s, and he often sent him guys who couldn’t make it with the Crimson Tide.
Bowden joined Bill Peterson’s Florida State staff as wide receivers coach in 1963. Bowden spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Florida State Seminoles before joining the West Virginia Mountaineers in 1966. After Jim Carlen departed for Texas Tech in 1970, he was elevated to head coach. Bowden’s first West Virginia squad was 8-3 in 1970, but is most known for squandering a 35-8 halftime lead in a 36-35 defeat to Pittsburgh. The Mountaineers finished 8-4 two years later, but were defeated 49-13 by NC State in the Peach Bowl.
West Virginia fell to 6-5 in 1973 and 4-7 in 1974, putting further pressure on Bowden. The 1974 squad was anticipated to be extremely strong, with 17 starters returning, including All-America wide receiver Danny Buggs. However, due to injuries to their top two quarterbacks, the Mountaineers dropped their season opener against Richmond, 29-25.
Soon after, West Virginia supporters hung Bowden in effigy. “Bye-bye Bowden” was written on a sheet hanging outside a dorm room, and Bowden saw it every day as he went to his office. Bowden’s house also had a “For Sale” sign put in the front yard by fans. Before her husband could see the placard, Ann Bowden took it down.
Before FSU’s 2004 Gator Bowl game against West Virginia, Bowden told reporters, “I can’t forget it.” “I witnessed how fast people turn on you, how quickly friends turn on you, how quickly people who used to invite me to parties stop inviting me,” says the author.
In 1975, the Mountaineers recovered with a 9-3 record, including a 13-10 Peach Bowl win against NC State. Bowden was coaching in a collegiate all-star game in Tampa, Florida after the 1975 season. FSU president Stanley Marshall and athletic director John Bridges called him about the Seminoles’ open coaching job. Bowden applied for the FSU position following his first season at West Virginia in 1970, but the school decided he wasn’t ready. Instead, FSU chose Larry Jones, the Tennessee defensive coordinator. From 1971 through 1975, Jones and his replacement, Darrell Mudra (who coached from the press box rather than the sideline), were a combined 19-37 in five seasons.
Bowden was eventually offered the position when the FSU program collapsed. It was a move that would permanently alter FSU’s and college football’s image. The Seminoles finished 5-6 in Bowden’s first season, which was also his first losing season at FSU. In 1977, the Seminoles went 10-2, and in 1978, they went 8-3. The 1979 squad finished 11-0 throughout the regular season, headed by Bowden’s first senior class. The Seminoles were defeated 24-7 by Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. In 1980, FSU finished 10-2 and defeated No. 3 Nebraska 18-14 on the road. That, according to Bowden, was the win that placed his program on the map.
“I don’t believe a lot of people had heard of Florida State up to that time,” Bowden remarked in 2009. “Perhaps they’d heard of Florida State in the South, but not across the nation; nevertheless, after that game, people all across the country were asking, ‘Who’s Florida State?’”
It wouldn’t be long until the Seminoles were known across the nation. After battling through one of the most difficult schedules in college football history, the 1981 Florida State Seminoles ended 6-5. The Seminoles finished 3-2 in a five-game run dubbed as “Octoberfest,” in which they faced traditional powers Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and LSU on the road. FSU’s football team, which was still autonomous at the time, had to assist the athletic department in balancing its budget.
The Seminoles finished 7-4-1 in 1986, Bowden’s 11th season at FSU, and were invited to play in the All-American Bowl.
Coach Ray Perkins resigned as coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers as soon as FSU landed in Bowden’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Alabama supporters were clear about who they wanted as their next coach: Bowden. He spoke with authorities from Alabama, but was informed that university president Joab Thomas wanted him to go through a complete interview process. Bowden walked out of the meeting and was no longer considered for the position. Three years later, when Crimson Tide coach Bill Curry left, Alabama officials phoned and offered Bowden the position without an interview, but he politely refused.
Bowden told ESPN in 2007: “I felt I was meant to go back there, you know?” “You know how you feel like you’re being led somewhere? I’m thinking to myself, ‘Boy, it’s interesting how my career is. I’m going to wind up back where I always wanted to be.’ And I just assumed it was meant to be. But it wasn’t.”
Bowden’s destiny, even if he didn’t realize it at the time, was to coach at FSU. Bowden took the coaching post at FSU in 1976 with the expectation of using it as a stepping stone to a more appealing job in his home state of Alabama. Bowden wanted to familiarize himself with Southern college football fans after spending the previous decade in West Virginia. He hoped he wouldn’t be in Tallahassee for long after viewing FSU’s 1981 schedule for the first time.
Bowden once remarked, “I never truly came here to stay.” “It simply happened to be that way.”
Bowden never had a cause to quit FSU in his more than three decades as the head coach. The 1987 Florida State squad went 11-1, kicking off a run of 14 seasons with 10 or more wins. From 1987 through 2000, the Seminoles finished in the top five of the final Associated Press Top 25 poll every season. FSU won their first 29 ACC games after entering the conference in 1992, and didn’t lose to a league opponent until a 33-28 defeat at Virginia on Nov. 2, 1995. Each of FSU’s first nine seasons in the ACC resulted in a conference championship.
“Everyone claimed [at North Carolina] we were the second-best in the ACC,” Brown remarked. “Everyone else in the nation was second-best because of him; his teams were in the top four for 14 consecutive seasons, and that’s something you don’t do, no matter who you are or where you coach.”
Bowden, on the other hand, didn’t win his first national title until 1993, and it was mainly due to in-state rival Miami. FSU’s lone setback in 1987 was a 26-25 loss at Miami. The Seminoles were rated No. 1 in the preseason but fell 31-0 to the Hurricanes in their first game the following season. From 1985 through 1992, Miami defeated Florida State seven times in eight seasons, with several of those defeats denying the Seminoles a chance to compete for the national title.
FSU’s most memorable loss against Miami was in 1991, when the No. 1 Seminoles were defeated 17-16 by the No. 2 Hurricanes after FSU kicker Gerry Thomas’ 34-yard field goal attempt with 29 seconds remaining sailed wide right. The play became known as “Wide Right,” and FSU fell to Miami 19-16 the following season after Dan Mowrey missed a 39-yard field goal — how else? — on the last play, wide right.
“We didn’t win a national title until 1993,” Bowden remarked, “primarily because we kept losing to Miami on failed kicks.” “I used to be irritated because no one else would play Miami. Notre Dame would play them, then drop them. Florida would drop them. Penn State would drop them. We would play Miami and lose by one point on a missed field goal, knocking us out of the national championship. I didn’t want to play them, but I had to. That’s why I said, ‘When I die, they’ll say, ‘At least he played Miami.’
In 1993, Florida State eventually defeated Miami 28-10. The Seminoles were defeated 31-24 by No. 2 Notre Dame in their tenth game, but bounced back to win NC State and Florida to finish the regular season with an 11-1 record. Bowden’s first national title came in the Orange Bowl, when No. 1 Florida State beat No. 2 Nebraska 18-16. On the last play, Cornhuskers kicker Byron Bennett’s 45-yard field goal attempt went wide left, allowing the Seminoles to win the game.
Bowden won his second national title in 1999, at the age of 70, when the Seminoles went undefeated and became the first team in the country to go undefeated from start to finish.
“They always thought, ‘He’ll never win the big one,’” Bowden said. “It was more of a relief when you eventually won it, but it was more of an achievement when we won the second national championship. You were No. 1 in the country from start to finish, which had never been done before, and it was a tremendous accomplishment.”
Coach Mack Brown of North Carolina said of Bobby Bowden, “He’s had a Hall of Fame history where he impacted so many people.” Nati Harnik/AP Photo/File
Bowden’s dynasty was chastised at times for player misbehavior and what some saw as a lenient disciplinary policy. Deion Sanders, an All-America cornerback, helped Florida State defeat Auburn 13-7 in the 1989 Sugar Bowl, but it was subsequently revealed that Sanders had dropped out of classes and had not taken any examinations during the previous fall semester. The state’s board of regents enacted the “Deion Rule,” which required students to attend class.
Sports Illustrated ran a cover story shortly after Florida State won the national title in 1993, alleging that at least seven Seminoles athletes went on a $6,000 shopping spree at a Foot Locker store. The shopping spree was reportedly paid for by a sports agent’s associate, making the athletes ineligible under NCAA regulations. As a result of the event, then-Florida coach Steve Spurrier dubbed his team’s main opponent “Free Shoes U.”
Star receiver Peter Warrick, a Heisman Trophy contender, and Laveranues Coles were accused with obtaining substantially discounted goods from a department shop during FSU’s 1999 national championship season. Bowden was chastised for ejecting Coles from the team while merely suspending Warrick for two games. Warrick caught six receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns in FSU’s 46-29 Sugar Bowl win against Virginia Tech. He also returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown.
Bowden was chastised before the same bowl game for not disciplining All-America kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who had violated the team’s New Orleans curfew. Bowden quipped that his Polish-born kicker didn’t have any “Warsaw rules.”
Bowden stated in 2009, “I don’t care what people say.” “I’m in charge of 115 boys, so if five get in trouble, there are 110 who don’t. That’s a pretty good average, but that’s our society today. I’ve always been pretty tough. You probably get a little more understanding as you get older, but I’ve always felt pretty tough when it came to discipline. People have always called me a second-chance coach, but that’s the wacky part about it.
The greatest controversy at Florida State occurred during the 2007 season. The Seminoles banned more than two dozen players for cheating in an online music course only days before they faced Kentucky in the Music City Bowl. According to an inquiry, 61 student-athletes from ten sports got inappropriate music aid. The NCAA imposed a four-year probationary period on FSU, revoked 19 athletic scholarships, and ordered the institution to annul wins by teams in which student-athletes participated, including 12 football triumphs.
“I’ve never been accused of cheating in 50 years of teaching,” Bowden stated in 2009. “Now they want to punish me for something I had nothing to do with.”
Bowden worried at the moment how the controversy might impact his legacy.
Brown stated, “He had a Hall of Fame history where he impacted so many people.” “Coach Bowden’s legacy isn’t his name on the field, all of the victories, or whether or not he had a few taken away; it’s the countless number of players who love him, the players’ and coaches’ lives he touched, and the impact he had on so many people like me. He did it right and he always did it with a smile.”
Bowden’s program started to falter after losing 13-2 to Oklahoma in the 2001 BCS National Championship Game. From 2001 through 2008, the squad that had set the bar for college football in the 1990s only won 10 games in one season. Many Florida State supporters started to worry whether Bowden had lost his touch. Bowden, though, remained to coach beyond his 80th birthday, aiming to restore FSU to the top of the sport once again.
Then-FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who played quarterback for Terry Bowden and coached with him at Samford, was named Bobby Bowden’s eventual successor near the end of the 2007 season. The plan was for Fisher to coach under Bowden until the end of the 2010 season. But when FSU struggled again in 2009, Bowden was unceremoniously forced to retire. Fisher guided the Seminoles to a 14-0 record and a national championship in 2014. He left for Texas A&M in December 2017.
While college football changed and developed throughout the course of Bowden’s more than five decades on the sidelines, his life away from the game remained consistent.
Bowden and Julia Ann purchased the same home in Tallahassee when he was employed at Florida State University in 1976. For almost half a century, they even used the same phone number. Even as pressure grew on Bowden to win more games towards the conclusion of his career, their number was consistently included in the local phone book. Bowden never drank or smoked, and he only swore seldom. Once a year, he was renowned for bringing his players to church, and he seldom missed a Sunday service himself.
In Ace Collins’ book “I Saw Him in Your Eyes,” Bowden says, “I can barely remember not being a believer.” “I was literally raised under the godly influence both at home and at church. There was no alcohol and no smoking at our house. That was the way a Bowden was supposed to live. My father always told me to represent the Bowden name in a respectful manner. I grew to understand that meant living with the highest moral values.
Bowden kept himself occupied in the latter years of his life by giving speeches and playing golf.
Bowden stated in 2009, “I’ve watched so many folks retire and die.” “My father resigned and died a year later, Coach Bryant retired and died a month after, and there’s just one big event remaining when I retire,” he says.
And now he’s gone, dammit.
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