‘A Corridor of Fame legacy:’ Remembering the one-of-a-kind life and profession of Bobby Bowden

NCAAF

Longtime Florida State booster David Mobley, an accountant in Atlanta, remembers telling Bobby Bowden that he had picked up one of many legendary coach’s former gamers, Tom Pridemore, as a consumer.

“Tommy Pridemore’s momma made the most effective rabbit and biscuits I’ve ever had,” Bowden advised Mobley.

Pridemore, now 65, had performed security for Bowden at West Virginia practically 30 years earlier.

Each time Bowden ran into Demetro Stephens, lengthy after the previous Seminoles linebacker had left faculty, the coach requested him the identical query: “Is your grandfather nonetheless making that apple pie?”

When Bowden was attempting to safe celebrated linebacker Derrick Brooks throughout a house go to in Pensacola, Florida in January 1991, Brooks’ youthful sister, Latoya, fell asleep on the couch. With out taking his eyes off Brooks’ mom, Geraldine, Bowden positioned the little lady’s head on his knee. Brooks noticed the look on his mom’s face and knew straight away he was going to Florida State.

For greater than a half-century, Bowden received over mother and father and grandparents in dwelling rooms alike along with his trademark Southern allure and kindness. It is the explanation he was considered probably the greatest closers in recruiting, which helped him construct one of many biggest dynasties in faculty soccer historical past. Bowden by no means met a stranger and by no means forgot a reputation — or what certainly one of his participant’s momma cooked for him.

“You had no probability if you had been recruiting in opposition to him,” stated North Carolina coach Mack Brown, who performed at Florida State and coached in opposition to Bowden throughout his first tenure with the Tar Heels from 1988 to 1997. “You knew when he was within the residence, you higher look out.”

Bowden, a School Soccer Corridor of Famer and the patriarch of one of many sport’s most well-known teaching households, died on Sunday morning after battling pancreatic most cancers. He was 91. His household introduced final month that Bowden had been identified with a terminal sickness.

“I’ve all the time tried to serve God’s function for my life, on and off the sphere, and I’m ready for what’s to return,” Bowden stated in a press release in July. “My spouse Ann and our household have been life’s biggest blessing. I’m at peace.”

Bowden leaves a legacy that reaches far past the sport of soccer and his position as a coach. Famously recognized for his folksy allure and witty one-liners, Bowden typically spent Sunday mornings preaching at church pulpits throughout the nation, utilizing his lofty place to assist unfold his Christian religion. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes named its nationwide citizenship award after Bowden in 2003.

“Religion is crucial factor on the planet to me,” Bowden advised ESPN in 2009. “It is the best energy I’ve had. It is helped me get via the arduous occasions. You are not going to win each certainly one of your soccer video games. I’ve all the time stated I am not going to make soccer my god. Quite a lot of coaches put a lot into teaching soccer video games that they don’t have anything left. I’ve by no means made soccer my precedence. My priorities are my religion and my dependence on God.”

That was a lesson Bowden tried to show his gamers, even when he was criticized by some for doing so.

“Coach Bowden was a father determine to all of us,” stated Andre Wadsworth, an All-American defensive finish at FSU in 1997. “The primary day, he advised us he did not need us sleeping with ladies as a result of he thought intercourse must be saved for marriage. He advised us he did not need us consuming, even after we turned 21. He advised us he was going to deal with all of us like his sons, and that is what he did. He cared about us greater than he cared about soccer.”

It wasn’t simply Florida State’s gamers who had been influenced by Bowden’s beliefs.

“I’ve stated it many occasions; subsequent to my father he is essentially the most influential man in my life,”stated former Georgia and Miami coach Mark Richt, a longtime assistant underneath Bowden. “He confirmed me the best way to a relationship with Jesus, and he gave me a possibility to educate soccer at a Energy 5 faculty as a younger 25-year-old man with actually no expertise. I did not even perceive in the meanwhile how particular it was simply to look at him for 15 years as a person of God, a household man and one of many biggest coaches within the historical past of faculty soccer. I could not have damaged into the enterprise underneath anyone higher than that.”


Bowden’s 377 victories at Howard School (now Samford University), West Virginia and Florida State are greater than each main faculty soccer coach besides Joe Paterno, who received 409 video games in 46 seasons at Penn State. Bowden guided his FSU groups to a 315-98-4 file (the Seminoles had been compelled to vacate 12 wins due to NCAA violations), 12 ACC championships and two nationwide titles, in 1993 and 1999. When Bowden retired after the 2009 season, he ranked first amongst lively coaches in profitable share in bowl video games (68.8%), second in bowl victories (22) and second in bowl appearances (33).

Bowden led his groups to bowl video games for 27 consecutive seasons, together with a outstanding 15 straight appearances in prestigious New Yr’s Day bowl contests. At one level, Bowden’s groups received 11 consecutive bowl video games over that stretch. He’s additionally the one coach in NCAA historical past to steer groups to 14 straight seasons with 10 victories or extra.

“We knew issues had been good, however we most likely did not notice how good they had been,” Richt stated. “Working for Coach Bowden, everyone really liked him and needed to do a terrific job for him. I feel gamers felt that means, I feel coaches felt that means. There are a number of completely different management kinds, together with some that need to remind you on a regular basis who’s the boss. All people knew Coach Bowden was in cost, and he did not need to attempt to impose his will on anyone. He did not inspire via concern; he motivated extra intrinsically via love.”

That did not imply Bowden wasn’t aggressive. Brown recalled a sport in opposition to Florida State in 1997, when the Seminoles had been ranked No. 2 within the nation and the Tar Heels No. 5. Brown and Bowden met at midfield earlier than the showdown of undefeated groups at Keenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“I by no means thought I might see this, boy,” Bowden stated to Brown. “That is actually cool. This factor is packed two hours earlier than the sport. You have to really feel actually good about that.”

Bowden was scuffling with a foul again on the time and coached a lot of the sport from a stool.

“Coach, I do not know if we will beat you or not,” Brown advised him. “However my purpose tonight is to get you off that stool.”

“You have received an excellent crew,” Bowden replied. “I do not know if you will get me off that stool or not. That is going to be arduous.”

Bowden might need gotten up from the stool twice that evening — as soon as at halftime and once more within the closing seconds of FSU’s 20-3 victory.

The recognition of Bowden’s soccer program helped Florida State develop into one of many nation’s largest public universities. From 1909 to 1947, FSU was referred to as the Florida State School for Girls till it returned to coed standing. FSU did not area its first soccer crew till 1947 — greater than 4 a long time after the University of Florida fielded its first crew — and did not award athletic scholarships till 1951.

Bowden coached 26 consensus All-Individuals, together with a number of winners of faculty soccer’s biggest particular person awards. Quarterback Charlie Ward, who led FSU to its first nationwide championship, received the 1993 Heisman Trophy. Chris Weinke, who was the primary three-year starter at quarterback underneath Bowden, received the Heisman in 2000. Ward and Weinke had been amongst three FSU quarterbacks to win the Johnny Unitas Award, whereas Seminoles gamers additionally received the Thorpe, Butkus, Davey O’Brien, Lou Groza and Lombardi awards throughout Bowden’s tenure.

Beneath Bowden, FSU turned one of many nice coaching grounds for future NFL gamers. A Seminoles participant was chosen within the NFL draft yearly from 1984 to 2009, with 30 being NFL first-round alternatives and greater than 150 drafted after Bowden took over this system.

Soccer saved Bowden away from his spouse and 6 kids, however three of his sons performed on his faculty groups and later adopted him into teaching. Tommy Bowden was the coach at Tulane and Clemson, main the Inexperienced Wave to a 12-0 season in 1998. Terry was the coach at Salem (W.Va.) School, Samford (Ala.) College, Auburn, North Alabama, Akron and can coach his first season at Louisana Monroe this season. He guided the 1993 Auburn crew to an 11-0 file. Jeff labored on his father’s FSU employees as large receivers coach and offensive coordinator from 1994 to 2006.

Bobby Bowden stated he by no means pressured his sons to observe him into teaching.

“I didn’t encourage them to be coaches, and I did not need them to get into teaching,” Bowden stated in 2009. “I didn’t need to compete in opposition to them, and I did not need them competing in opposition to one another.”

In 1999, Florida State and Clemson met for the primary time with Bobby and Tommy Bowden on reverse sidelines. The sport was dubbed the “Bowden Bowl” and was the primary main faculty soccer assembly of father-son coaches. FSU received the primary Bowden Bowl 17-14, the primary of 4 straight victories for Bobby Bowden over his son’s groups. Clemson upset No. 3 FSU 26-10 in 2003 — on Bobby Bowden’s 74th birthday — knocking the Seminoles out of the nationwide championship race.

Bobby Bowden had a 5-4 benefit over his son in head-to-head conferences earlier than Tommy was compelled to resign as Clemson’s coach halfway via the 2008 season. Ultimately, the strain of the Bowden Bowl was an excessive amount of, particularly for the household’s matriarch.

“You see blood hurting, husband or son,” Tommy Bowden stated in 2005. “Anyone’s hurting Sunday, which displays again on her. We receives a commission properly to harm. She does not.”


Robert Cleckler “Bobby” Bowden was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on Nov. 8, 1929. His father, Bob Bowden, labored on the First Nationwide Financial institution of Birmingham. His mom, Sundown Cleckler Bowden, was a homemaker. Though Bowden’s father survived the Nice Melancholy, his grandfather, a house builder, went broke and moved into the household’s residence within the Woodlawn part of Birmingham.

As a younger youngster, Bobby Bowden spent many fall evenings sitting on the roof of his household’s storage along with his father. The roof supplied a perch over hedges for Bowden to see the follow fields of Woodlawn Excessive College, which had the most effective soccer crew within the metropolis. Lots of Woodlawn Excessive’s gamers attended Bob Bowden’s Sunday faculty class on the neighborhood Baptist church.

In 1934, Bob Bowden moved his household to the East Lake part of Birmingham, into a house that was a couple of half-block from Howard School. Bobby Bowden began enjoying soccer on the YMCA at age 9. On Sunday afternoons, neighborhood boys would meet at Howard School’s follow fields for contact soccer video games. Among the many East Lake boys who performed with Bowden was Harry Gilmer, who would later turn into his favourite participant because the College of Alabama’s star quarterback.

“All my life, I have been proper subsequent to a soccer area,” Bowden advised ESPN in 2007. “I by no means knew nothing else.”

On the age of 13, Bowden suffered from rheumatic fever and was stricken by swelling in his knees. He spent six months within the hospital and was confined to mattress for practically a yr after he returned residence. Whereas in mattress, Bowden developed a love for, of all issues, struggle. He turned enthralled by World Battle II radio stories from faraway battles in France, Germany and different components of Europe. With out TV, Bowden envisioned the battlefields in his thoughts and contemplated the methods of generals.

“I principally listened to a play-by-play of World Battle II for a yr,” Bowden stated within the e book “The Guide of Bowden” by Julie and Jim Bettinger. “I might think about what each place seemed like: what the terrain of the battlefield was like, what the military items seemed like and the way the sounds and smells of the struggle will need to have been. I had a fairly good map in my head of the place issues had been in Europe and I even started to be taught which generals had been main which items.”

Bowden additionally developed a terrific love for faculty soccer whereas he was in poor health. He listened to radio broadcasts of Alabama soccer video games on Saturday afternoons. His father purchased him a soccer technique board sport, and Bowden typically performed out video games he was listening to on the radio. Bowden dreamed of sooner or later enjoying for Frank Thomas, who coached the Crimson Tide from 1931 to 1946. However Bowden first needed to persuade his medical doctors that he was wholesome sufficient to play sports activities once more.

Bowden enrolled at Woodlawn Excessive College after recovering from rheumatic fever in 1945. Medical doctors suggested him in opposition to enjoying sports activities, so Bowden targeted his vitality on music. He was first chair within the faculty’s orchestra and a trombonist within the faculty’s marching band. Bowden performed with the Lee Jordan Band at Saturday evening dances on the Rose Membership. He dreamed of enjoying within the College of Alabama’s “Million Greenback Band” and even attended band camp in Tuscaloosa for 5 weeks in the summertime of 1945.

After all, Bowden’s favourite track was, “Yea, Alabama!” Bowden would later hum the Crimson Tide’s struggle track to calm his nerves earlier than video games in his rookie season as a head coach at West Virginia in 1970. He liked Alabama that a lot.

“To me, there was no different faculty,” Bowden advised ESPN in 2007. “I used to be so avid that I may even keep in mind crying. I keep in mind praying, ‘God, please assist them win.'”

The one factor Bowden liked extra was enjoying soccer. Earlier than his sophomore yr of highschool, Bowden persuaded his mother and father to get a second opinion from medical doctors. Bowden’s mother and father had been advised their son’s coronary heart was sturdy sufficient to play soccer once more, so he went out for the Woodlawn Excessive varsity crew in 1946. Bowden promptly broke his thumb and missed all of his sophomore season. He returned the following season and have become one of many metropolis’s greatest halfbacks.

Bowden accepted a scholarship to play soccer at Alabama in 1948. Howard had been changed by new coach H.D. “Pink” Drew, however Bowden was nonetheless dwelling his dream when he performed on the Crimson Tide’s freshman crew.

Bowden lasted just one semester in Tuscaloosa. He shortly turned homesick for Julia Ann Estock, his highschool sweetheart, who would turn into his spouse of greater than 72 years. Bowden, then 19, and Estock, 16, eloped on April 1, 1949, with Bowden driving his father’s shiny new Ford to a church in Rising Fawn, Georgia. Bowden knew married gamers could not stay on scholarship at Alabama, so he transferred to Howard School, which was only some blocks from his mother and father’ residence.

Bowden performed halfback and quarterback for Howard School (now Samford College) for 4 seasons. His groups went 4-5 in 1949, 2-8 in 1950 and 2-3-1 in 1951. He was named “Little All-America” as a senior in 1952 after main Howard to a 5-4 file.

After graduating from Howard School in 1953, Bowden earned his grasp’s diploma whereas commuting to Peabody School in Nashville. He and Ann additionally had a rising household. A daughter, Robyn, was born in 1951, and their oldest son, Steve, was born in 1952. The youngsters stayed with Bowden’s mother and father whereas Bowden and his spouse completed faculty.

Bowden returned to his alma mater as an assistant soccer coach and head observe coach in 1954, incomes $3,600 yearly. He left Howard in 1956 to turn into athletic director and soccer coach at South Georgia Junior School, the place he received three state championships. Bowden returned to Howard as head soccer coach in 1959 and inherited a crew that had endured six consecutive shedding seasons. He went 31-6 in 4 seasons.

Whereas teaching at Howard, Bowden traveled regularly to Tuscaloosa to observe the Crimson Tide follow. Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant turned Bowden’s idol. Bryant was keen on Bowden and infrequently despatched him gamers who could not lower it with the Crimson Tide.

In 1963, Bowden joined Invoice Peterson’s FSU employees as large receivers coach. Bowden spent three seasons in Tallahassee earlier than transferring to West Virginia because the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator in 1966. He was promoted to move coach in 1970 after Jim Carlen left for Texas Tech. Bowden’s first crew at West Virginia completed 8-3 in 1970 however was most remembered for blowing a 35-8 halftime lead in a 36-35 loss to rival Pittsburgh. Two years later, the Mountaineers completed 8-4 however misplaced to NC State 49-13 within the Peach Bowl.

West Virginia slipped to 6-5 in 1973 and 4-7 in 1974, and the strain on Bowden was mounting. With 17 starters again, together with All-America large receiver Danny Buggs, the 1974 crew was anticipated to be excellent. However the Mountaineers misplaced their prime two quarterbacks to accidents and misplaced their opener in opposition to Richmond, 29-25.

Quickly, West Virginia followers hanged Bowden in effigy. College students hung a sheet exterior a dorm room that learn, “Bye-bye Bowden.” Bowden noticed the signal every day he walked to his workplace. Followers additionally positioned a “For Sale” signal within the entrance yard of Bowden’s residence. Ann Bowden eliminated the signal earlier than her husband might see it.

“I can not overlook that,” Bowden advised reporters earlier than FSU performed West Virginia within the 2004 Gator Bowl. “I noticed how fast folks will activate you. I noticed how shortly buddies would activate you, how shortly individuals who used to ask me to events give up inviting me.”

The Mountaineers rebounded with a 9-3 file in 1975, together with a 13-10 victory over NC State within the Peach Bowl. After the 1975 season, Bowden was teaching in a university all-star sport in Tampa, Florida. He acquired a cellphone name from FSU president Stanley Marshall and athletic director John Bridges concerning the Seminoles’ vacant teaching place. Bowden had sought the FSU job after his first season at West Virginia in 1970, however FSU officers did not really feel he was prepared. FSU employed Tennessee defensive coordinator Larry Jones as an alternative. Jones and his successor, Darrell Mudra (who coached from the press field as an alternative of the sideline) had been a mixed 19-37 in 5 seasons from 1971 to 1975.

With the FSU program reeling, Bowden lastly was supplied the job. It was a choice that might ceaselessly change the face of FSU and faculty soccer. In 1976, Bowden’s first season, the Seminoles completed 5-6, which, remarkably, was his solely shedding season at FSU. The Seminoles went 10-2 in 1977 and 8-3 in 1978. The 1979 crew — which was led by Bowden’s first senior class — went 11-0 within the common season. The Seminoles misplaced to Oklahoma 24-7 within the Orange Bowl. FSU went 10-2 in 1980, upsetting No. 3 Nebraska 18-14 on the highway. Bowden believed that was the victory that put his program on the map.

“Up till that time, I do not suppose lots of people had heard of Florida State,” Bowden stated in 2009. “Possibly that they had heard of Florida State down within the South, however not all around the nation. However after that sport, folks all over the place had been saying, ‘Who’s Florida State?'”

It would not be lengthy earlier than the whole nation knew who the Seminoles had been. The 1981 FSU crew completed 6-5 after laboring via one of many hardest schedules in faculty soccer historical past. In 5 consecutive video games that turned referred to as “Octoberfest,” the Seminoles performed highway video games at conventional powers Nebraska, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and LSU and went 3-2 in that stretch. Nonetheless impartial at that time, FSU’s soccer crew had to assist the athletics division steadiness its finances.

Within the 1986 season — Bowden’s eleventh season at FSU — the Seminoles completed 7-4-1 and had been invited to play within the All-American Bowl.

As quickly as FSU arrived in Bowden’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, coach Ray Perkins resigned to turn into coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Alabama followers knew whom they needed as their subsequent coach — Bowden. He met with Alabama officers however was advised that college president Joab Thomas needed him to undergo a full-scale interview. Bowden left the assembly and eliminated himself from consideration for the job. When Crimson Tide coach Invoice Curry resigned three years later, Alabama officers referred to as and supplied Bowden the job — with out an interview — however he respectfully declined.

“I assumed I used to be supposed to return there, you recognize it?” Bowden advised ESPN in 2007. “You know the way you’re feeling such as you’re simply sort of being led someplace? I am considering, ‘Boy, it is humorous how my profession is. I will find yourself again the place I all the time needed to be.’ And I simply thought it was meant to be. However it wasn’t.”


Bowden’s future was to educate at FSU, even when he did not comprehend it on the time. When Bowden accepted the teaching place at FSU in 1976, he thought it might be one other stepping stone to a extra enticing job in his native Alabama. After having spent the earlier decade in West Virginia, Bowden needed to reacquaint himself with Southern faculty soccer followers. And after seeing FSU’s 1981 schedule for the primary time, he hoped he would not be in Tallahassee for very lengthy.

“I by no means actually got here right here to remain,” Bowden as soon as stated. “It simply ended up occurring that means.”

In additional than three a long time as FSU’s coach, Bowden by no means had any cause to go away. The 1987 FSU crew completed 11-1, which began a streak of 14 consecutive seasons with 10 or extra victories. The Seminoles completed within the prime 5 of the ultimate Related Press Prime 25 ballot each season from 1987 to 2000. After becoming a member of the ACC in 1992, FSU received its first 29 ACC video games and did not lose to a league foe till a 33-28 loss at Virginia on Nov. 2, 1995. FSU received ACC titles in every of its first 9 seasons within the league.

“All people stated we had been second-best within the ACC [at North Carolina],” Brown stated. “All people else within the nation was second-best due to him. His groups had been within the prime 4 in 14 straight seasons. You simply do not try this. I do not care who you’re or the place you are teaching.”

However Bowden did not win his first nationwide championship till 1993, and in-state rival Miami was largely the explanation he needed to wait. In 1987, FSU’s solely defeat was a 26-25 loss to Miami. The following season, the Seminoles had been ranked No. 1 within the preseason however misplaced to the Hurricanes 31-0 of their opener. Miami beat FSU seven occasions in eight seasons from 1985 to 1992, with lots of these losses costing the Seminoles an opportunity to play for the nationwide championship.

FSU’s most well-known loss to Miami got here in 1991, when the No. 1 Seminoles misplaced to the No. 2 Hurricanes 17-16 after FSU kicker Gerry Thomas’ 34-yard area purpose strive sailed large proper with 29 seconds to play. The play infamously turned referred to as “Extensive Proper.” The very subsequent season, FSU misplaced to Miami 19-16 when Dan Mowrey missed a 39-yard area purpose — how else? — large proper on the ultimate play.

“Nearly as good as we had been, we did not win a nationwide championship till 1993, primarily as a result of we saved shedding to Miami on missed kicks,” Bowden stated. “I used to get mad as a result of no person else would play Miami. Notre Dame would play them, then drop them. Florida dropped them. Penn State dropped them. We’d play Miami and lose by one level on a missed area purpose, and it might knock us out of the nationwide championship. I did not need to play them both, however I needed to play them. That is why I stated, ‘After I die, they will say, ‘No less than he performed Miami.'”

Florida State lastly beat Miami, 28-10, in 1993. The Seminoles misplaced at No. 2 Notre Dame 31-24 of their tenth sport however recovered to beat NC State and Florida to finish the common season with an 11-1 file. Bowden received his first nationwide championship when No. 1 FSU defeated No. 2 Nebraska 18-16 within the Orange Bowl. Sarcastically, the Seminoles received the sport after Cornhuskers kicker Byron Bennett’s 45-yard area purpose try sailed large left on the ultimate play.

Bowden added a second nationwide championship in 1999 — at age 70 — when the Seminoles completed 12-0 and have become the primary crew to go wire-to-wire because the No. 1-ranked crew within the nation.

“They all the time stated, ‘He cannot win the large one,'” Bowden stated. “If you lastly win it, it was extra of a reduction. Once we received the second nationwide championship, it was extra of an accomplishment. You had been No. 1 within the nation from begin to end, which had by no means been carried out earlier than. That was a terrific accomplishment.”

Bowden’s dynasty was criticized at occasions for gamers’ misconduct and what some perceived as his tender hand at punishment. All-America cornerback Deion Sanders helped FSU beat Auburn 13-7 within the 1989 Sugar Bowl, however it was later found that Sanders had give up going to class and hadn’t taken exams the earlier fall semester. The state’s board of regents handed an attendance rule that turned referred to as the “Deion Rule.”

Shortly after FSU received the 1993 nationwide championship, Sports activities Illustrated revealed a canopy story that alleged that at the least seven Seminoles gamers participated in a $6,000 buying spree at a Foot Locker retailer. The buying spree allegedly was paid for by an affiliate of a sports activities agent, which might have made the gamers ineligible underneath NCAA guidelines. The incident led then-Florida coach Steve Spurrier to name his crew’s greatest rival “Free Footwear U.”

In FSU’s 1999 nationwide championship season, star receiver Peter Warrick, a Heisman Trophy candidate, and Laveranues Coles had been charged with receiving deeply discounted merchandise from a division retailer. Bowden was criticized as a result of he kicked Coles off the crew however solely suspended Warrick for 2 video games. In FSU’s 46-29 victory over Virginia Tech within the 2000 Sugar Bowl, Warrick caught six passes for 163 yards with two touchdowns and returned a punt 59 yards for a rating.

Earlier than that very same bowl sport, Bowden was criticized for not suspending All-America kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who had missed the crew’s curfew in New Orleans. Bowden joked that he did not have “Warsaw guidelines” for his Polish-born kicker.

“I do not care what they are saying,” Bowden stated in 2009. “I am answerable for 115 boys. If I’ve 5 get in hassle, I’ve 110 who did not. That is a fairly good common, however we’ll be criticized for it. That is our society right this moment. I’ve all the time been fairly robust. You most likely get a little bit extra understanding as you become old, however I’ve all the time felt I used to be fairly robust when it got here to self-discipline. Folks have all the time referred to as me a second-chance coach, however that is the best way I used to be raised. If folks hadn’t given me a second probability, I might have by no means made it.”

Florida State’s greatest scandal got here within the 2007 season. Shortly earlier than the Seminoles performed Kentucky within the Music Metropolis Bowl, the varsity suspended greater than two dozen gamers for dishonest in a web based music course. An investigation discovered 61 student-athletes in 10 sports activities acquired improper help within the music course. The NCAA positioned FSU on 4 years’ probation, lower 19 athletic scholarships and ordered the varsity to vacate victories by groups whose student-athletes had been concerned, together with 12 in soccer.

“In 50 years of teaching, I’ve by no means been accused of dishonest,” Bowden stated in 2009. “Now they need to penalize me for one thing I did not have a component in.”

On the time, Bowden puzzled how the scandal would have an effect on his legacy.

“He is received a Corridor of Fame legacy the place he touched so many lives,” Brown stated. “The legacy that Coach Bowden has just isn’t the title on the sphere, all the wins or whether or not he had a number of taken away or not. His legacy is the numerous variety of gamers that love him and the gamers’ and coaches’ lives he touched, and the impression he had on so many individuals like me. He did it proper and he all the time did it with a smile.”

After shedding to Oklahoma 13-2 within the 2001 BCS Nationwide Championship Recreation, Bowden’s program started to slip. The crew that had set the usual for faculty soccer within the Nineties received 10 video games in just one season from 2001 to 2008. Many FSU followers started to wonder if Bowden had misplaced his contact. However Bowden continued to educate past his eightieth birthday, hoping to return FSU to the game’s higher echelon another time.

Then-FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who performed quarterback for Terry Bowden and coached with him at Samford, was named Bobby Bowden’s eventual successor close to the tip of the 2007 season. The plan was for Fisher to educate underneath Bowden till the tip of the 2010 season. However when FSU struggled once more in 2009, Bowden was unceremoniously compelled to retire. Fisher guided the Seminoles to a 14-0 file and a nationwide championship in 2014. He left for Texas A&M in December 2017.

As a lot as faculty soccer modified and advanced throughout the greater than 5 a long time Bowden stood on the sideline, his life away from the sport seldom wavered.

Bowden and Julia Ann lived in the identical home in Tallahassee they purchased when he was employed at FSU in 1976. They even had the identical cellphone quantity for practically a half-decade. Their quantity had all the time been listed within the native cellphone e book, even after strain mounted on Bowden to win extra video games close to the tip of his tenure. Bowden by no means drank or smoked and barely cursed. He was recognized for taking his gamers to church every year, and infrequently missed a Sunday service himself.

“I can hardly keep in mind not being a believer,” Bowden stated within the e book “I Noticed Him in Your Eyes” by creator Ace Collins. “I used to be all the time going to church with my mother, dad and sister. I used to be actually raised underneath the godly affect each at residence and church. There was no alcohol and no smoking at our home. That was the best way a Bowden was imagined to reside. My dad all the time advised me to symbolize the Bowden title in a respectful method. I grew to grasp that meant dwelling with the very best ethical values. I knew that simply being a Bowden meant I couldn’t be concerned in something that might mirror badly on our title.”

Bowden spent the ultimate years of his life staying busy with talking engagements and enjoying golf.

“I’ve seen so many individuals retire and die,” Bowden stated in 2009. “My dad retired and died a yr later. Coach Bryant retired and died a month later. After I retire, there’s just one nice occasion left.”

Dadgummit, and now he is gone.

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