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Bobby Bowden

Bobby Bowden

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Robert Cleckler "Bobby" Bowden (born November 8, 1929) is a retired college football coach. He coached the Florida State Seminoles football team
Florida State Seminoles football
The Florida State Seminoles football team represents Florida State University in college football. The Florida State Seminoles compete in NCAA Division I-FBS and are members of the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference...

 from the 1976 to 2009 seasons. During his time at Florida State, Bowden led FSU to an Associated Press and Coaches Poll National Title
1994 Orange Bowl
The 1994 Orange Bowl a 1993–1994 college football bowl game was played on January 1, 1994, for the national championship. This 60th edition to the Orange Bowl featured the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the Florida State Seminoles. Florida State came into the game 11-1, and ranked first in the nation....

 in 1993
1993 Florida State Seminoles football team
The 1993 Florida State Seminoles football team was the national champion of the 1993 college football season. The team finished with a 12-1 record.-Regular season:...

 and a BCS
Bowl Championship Series
The Bowl Championship Series is a selection system that creates five bowl match-ups involving ten of the top ranked teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision , including an opportunity for the top two to compete in the BCS National Championship Game.The BCS relies on a combination of...

 National Championship
2000 Sugar Bowl
The 2000 Sugar Bowl was the designated Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game for the United States 1999 college football season and was played on January 4, 2000, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana...

 in 1999
1999 Florida State Seminoles football team
The 1999 Florida State Seminoles football team was the national champion of the 1999 college football season. The team finished with a perfect 12-0 record, and was the first in NCAA history to go "wire-to-wire," being ranked continuously as the nation's #1 team from the preseason through the bowl...

, as well as twelve Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Coast Conference
The Atlantic Coast Conference is a collegiate athletic league in the United States. Founded in 1953 in Greensboro, North Carolina, the ACC sanctions competition in twenty-five sports in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its twelve member universities...

 championships since FSU joined the conference in 1991. After a difficult 2009 season and amid questioning fans, Bowden announced his retirement from FSU on December 1, 2009, just weeks after his 80th birthday. His final coaching appearance was the 2010 Gator Bowl
2010 Gator Bowl
The 2010 Gator Bowl game was a post-season college football bowl game between the Florida State University Seminoles from the ACC, and the West Virginia University Mountaineers representing the Big East, and was played on Friday, January 1, 2010, at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville,...

 game on January 1, 2010, with a 33–21 victory over his former program, West Virginia
2009 West Virginia Mountaineers football team
The 2009 West Virginia Mountaineer football team represented West Virginia University in the college football season of 2009. The Mountaineers were led by head coach Bill Stewart and played their home games at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia...

.

Bowden finished his career second in all-time wins by a Division I-FBS coach with 389 wins. A March 6, 2009 NCAA ruling requiring Florida State to "vacate wins for any games in which an ineligible player participated," threatening to remove as many as 14 of Bowden's wins from the 2006 and 2007 seasons in relation to an academic scandal; Florida State appealed the ruling. The NCAA upheld the ruling on January 5, 2010. Upon final investigation by Florida State University
Florida State University
The Florida State University is a space-grant and sea-grant public university located in Tallahassee, Florida, United States. It is a comprehensive doctoral research university with medical programs and significant research activity as determined by the Carnegie Foundation...

 it was determined that Bowden was to vacate 12 wins, bringing his final career record to 377–129–4.

Youth and early life


Born in Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

, Bowden spent a portion of his childhood in bed, sick. Bowden is the son of Bob Bowden and Sunset (nee Cleckler ) Bowden. When he was 13 years old, Bowden was diagnosed with rheumatic fever
Rheumatic fever
Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that occurs following a Streptococcus pyogenes infection, such as strep throat or scarlet fever. Believed to be caused by antibody cross-reactivity that can involve the heart, joints, skin, and brain, the illness typically develops two to three weeks after...

. After a six month hospital stay, Bowden was confined to his bed at home for just over a year with nothing more than his imagination to pass the time. It was listening to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 reports on the radio that began Bowden's interest in the war, an interest he still has to this day. It was also around this time that his love for football increased, as he would listen to University of Alabama football
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

 on Saturday mornings.

Bowden was an outstanding football player at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, and went on to play for the University of Alabama
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

 as a quarterback, fulfilling a lifelong dream to play for the Crimson Tide. He then returned to Birmingham and married his high school sweetheart, Ann Estock, on April 1, 1949. Today, the couple have six children and 21 grandchildren. Bobby transferred to Howard College (now Samford University
Samford University
Samford University, founded as Howard College is a private, coeducational, Alabama Baptist Convention-affiliated university located in Homewood, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, United States. It includes the , Cumberland School of Law, McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Brock School of Business, Ida V....

). Bowden graduated from Howard in 1953.

Early coaching career


Bowden served as an assistant football coach and head track and field
Track and field
Track and field is a sport comprising various competitive athletic contests based around the activities of running, jumping and throwing. The name of the sport derives from the venue for the competitions: a stadium which features an oval running track surrounding a grassy area...

 coach at Howard College (now known as Samford University, currently in the FCS football division) in Birmingham, Alabama from 1954–55. He left his alma mater
Alma mater
Alma mater , pronounced ), was used in ancient Rome as a title for various mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and in Christianity for the Virgin Mary.-General term:...

 to become Athletic Director as well as head football, baseball, and basketball coach at South Georgia College
South Georgia College
South Georgia College is a two-year, state-supported, residential junior college located in Douglas, Georgia, United States.-Affiliation/Accreditation:...

 from 1956 to 1958. Bowden then returned to Howard as head coach, where he compiled a 31–6 record between 1959 and 1962. In 1962, Bowden went to Florida State University as an assistant coach under Head Coach Bill Peterson. Two other coaching legends who worked under Coach Peterson during this time were Bill Parcells
Bill Parcells
Duane Charles "Bill" Parcells is a former American football head coach, most recently with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2006...

 and Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs
Joe Jackson Gibbs is a former American football coach, NASCAR Championship team owner, and two time NHRA Pro Stock team owner. He was the 20th and 26th head coach in the history of the Washington Redskins...

. Bowden left Florida State in 1965 to go to West Virginia University
West Virginia Mountaineers football
The West Virginia Mountaineers football team represents West Virginia University in the NCAA FBS division of college football. Dana Holgorsen is the team's 33rd head coach. He has held the position since he was promoted in June 2011 after the resignation of Bill Stewart. The Mountaineers play their...

 as an assistant under Jim Carlen
Jim Carlen
-External links:...

. When Carlen left following the 1969 season to become head coach at Texas Tech
Texas Tech Red Raiders football
Texas Tech Red Raiders football program is a college football team that represents Texas Tech University . The team competes, as a member of the Big 12 Conference, which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association...

, Bowden replaced him. Bowden then compiled a 42–26 record at WVU before returning to FSU as head coach in 1976.

During Bowden's first year as head coach at WVU, the football team
Marshall Thundering Herd football
The Marshall Thundering Herd football team is an intercollegiate varsity sports program of Marshall University. The team represents the university as a member of the Conference USA Eastern division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, playing at the Division 1 Bowl Subdivision...

 of the state's other top-division school, Marshall University
Marshall University
Marshall University is a coeducational public research university in Huntington, West Virginia, United States founded in 1837, and named after John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States....

, fell victim to a tragic plane crash. Bowden asked NCAA permission to wear Marshall jerseys and play Marshall's final game
1970 Marshall Thundering Herd football team
The 1970 Marshall Thundering Herd football team represented the Marshall University in the 1970 NCAA Division I college football season.-Regular season:...

 of the 1970 season against Ohio
Ohio Bobcats football
The Ohio Bobcats football team is an intercollegiate varsity sports program of Ohio University. The team represents the university as a member of the Mid-American Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, playing at the Division 1 Bowl Subdivision level...

, but was denied. In memory of the victims of the crash, Mountaineers players put green crosses and the initials "MU" on their helmets. Bowden allowed Marshall's new head coach Jack Lengyel
Jack Lengyel
Jack Lengyel is a software executive and former American football coach, lacrosse coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at the College of Wooster from 1966 to 1970 and at Marshall University from 1971 until 1974, compiling a career college football...

 and his assistants access to game film and playbooks to acquaint themselves with the veer offense
Veer
The Veer is an option running play often associated with option offenses in American football, made famous at the collegiate level by the Houston Cougars. It is currently run primarily on the high school level, with some usage at the collegiate and the professional level with varying degrees of...

, a variation of the option offense
Option offense
The option offense is a generic term that is used to describe a wide variety of offensive systems in American football. Option offenses are characterized as such due to the predominance of option running plays employed in these schemes. Option offenses have traditionally relied heavily upon running...

 which aids teams with weak offensive lines. Lengyel credits Bowden with helping the young Thundering Herd recover. Bowden reportedly became emotional while viewing the movie We Are Marshall
We Are Marshall
We Are Marshall is a 2006 American drama film directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol about the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed 37 football players on the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team as well as five coaches, two athletic trainers, the athletic director, 25 boosters and...

, and has said that he was the original candidate for the Marshall head coaching job ultimately filled by crash victim Rick Tolley
Rick Tolley
-External links:* *...

.

Florida State




Bowden became the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles because the climate was warmer than in Morgantown
Morgantown, West Virginia
Morgantown is a city in Monongalia County, West Virginia. It is the county seat of Monongalia County. Placed along the banks of the Monongahela River, Morgantown is the largest city in North-Central West Virginia, and the base of the Morgantown metropolitan area...

, and because Tallahassee
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County, and is the 128th largest city in the United States. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2010, the population recorded by...

 was closer to Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

, where his mother and mother-in-law both lived. The team had a 4–29 record over the previous three seasons, and Bowden planned to stay only briefly before taking a better job, perhaps as head coach at Alabama.

During his 34 years as Florida State's head coach he had only one losing season—his first, in 1976—and declined head coaching job offers from Alabama, Auburn
Auburn Tigers football
Only Mohamed Amin Abughadir set the record with 1,890 yards in 1 season. He was the QB for Auburn in 1998.The Auburn Tigers football team represents Auburn University in college football as a member of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, competing in the Western Division of the...

, Louisiana State
LSU Tigers football
The LSU Tigers football team, also known as the Fighting Tigers or Bayou Bengals, represents Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States in NCAA Division I FBS college football. Current head coach Les Miles has led the team since 2005. Since 1999 when Nick Saban took over as...

, and the NFL's Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. They are a member of the South Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League...

. From 1987 to 2000 the Seminoles finished every season with at least 10 wins and in the top 5 of the Associated Press College Football Poll, and won the national championship in 1993 and 1999.

Personal life


Bowden is a committed Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 who credits his success in football to his faith.

Sons who coach


Bobby is not the only member of his family to have coached Division I-A football. His son Tommy Bowden
Tommy Bowden
Tommy Bowden is an American football coach who served as the head coach at Clemson University from 1999 until October 13, 2008...

 was the head coach at Clemson University
Clemson University
Clemson University is an American public, coeducational, land-grant, sea-grant, research university located in Clemson, South Carolina, United States....

. Another son, Terry Bowden
Terry Bowden
Terry Bowden is an American football coach at the University of North Alabama. Bowden was previously the head coach at Salem University , Samford University , and Auburn University . Bowden is the son of former Florida State University head football coach Bobby Bowden...

, was the head coach at Auburn University
Auburn University
Auburn University is a public university located in Auburn, Alabama, United States. With more than 25,000 students and 1,200 faculty members, it is one of the largest universities in the state. Auburn was chartered on February 7, 1856, as the East Alabama Male College, a private liberal arts...

, where he was the 1993 Coach of the Year. A third son, Jeff Bowden
Jeff Bowden
Jeff Bowden is an American college football coach at the University of North Alabama. He currently serves as receivers coach on his brother Terry's staff. Before that he served as the offensive coordinator for the Florida State Seminoles under his father and head coach Bobby Bowden...

, was the offensive coordinator at Florida State. All three Bowden men who were head coaches have achieved an undefeated season: Terry in 1993 at Auburn; Tommy in 1998 at Tulane; and Bobby in 1999 at Florida State. Bobby's 1993 and 1999 Florida State teams were the only ones to win a National Championship, however. Terry and Jeff currently coach at the University of North Alabama
University of North Alabama
The University of North Alabama is a coeducational university located in Florence, Alabama, and the state's oldest four-year public university....

.

The Bowden Bowl


As both Florida State and Clemson are in the same division of the Atlantic Coast Conference
Atlantic Coast Conference
The Atlantic Coast Conference is a collegiate athletic league in the United States. Founded in 1953 in Greensboro, North Carolina, the ACC sanctions competition in twenty-five sports in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its twelve member universities...

 for football, the two teams played each other every year from 1999 through 2007 in a game that became known as "The Bowden Bowl". Their 1999 meeting was the first time in Division I-A history that a father and a son met as opposing head coaches in a football game. Bobby held the edge in the series 5–4, with all four losses within the last five games. Tommy Bowden
Tommy Bowden
Tommy Bowden is an American football coach who served as the head coach at Clemson University from 1999 until October 13, 2008...

's four wins in the series remain the only times a son has ever beaten his father when facing off as head coach in any of America's four major sports.

One Bowden Bowl was scheduled between Auburn
1999 Auburn Tigers football team
The 1999 Auburn Tigers football team represented Auburn University in the 1999 NCAA Division I-A football season. Under first-year head coach Tommy Tuberville, Auburn finished the season with a record of 5–6, including a Southeastern Conference record of 2–6.-Schedule:-References:...

 and Florida State
1999 Florida State Seminoles football team
The 1999 Florida State Seminoles football team was the national champion of the 1999 college football season. The team finished with a perfect 12-0 record, and was the first in NCAA history to go "wire-to-wire," being ranked continuously as the nation's #1 team from the preseason through the bowl...

 for 1999 when Terry Bowden
Terry Bowden
Terry Bowden is an American football coach at the University of North Alabama. Bowden was previously the head coach at Salem University , Samford University , and Auburn University . Bowden is the son of former Florida State University head football coach Bobby Bowden...

 was the coach at Auburn. However, Terry's midseason resignation in 1998 ended the possibility of a Bowden Bowl. Another Bowden Bowl was scheduled between Clemson and Florida State in 2008, but Tommy Bowden's resignation halfway through the year ended the Bowden Bowls. Florida State
2008 Florida State Seminoles football team
The 2008 Florida State Seminoles football team represented Florida State University during the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Bowl Subdivision college football season. It was Florida State's 17th season as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference .The previous...

 beat Clemson
2008 Clemson Tigers football team
The 2008 Clemson football team represented Clemson University in the 2008 college football season. The Tigers were led by oft-maligned head coach Tommy Bowden, who resigned six games into his tenth season. The interim head coach was assistant coach Dabo Swinney...

 in what would have been the 2008 Bowden Bowl on Bobby Bowden's 79th birthday, earning him his 380th career win.

Awards


In 1992 Coach Bowden received the United States Sports Academy
United States Sports Academy
The United States Sports Academy is an accredited, sport-specific institution located in Daphne, Alabama. It offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1972, the Academy has provided its sports programs to more than 60 countries around the...

's Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award in recognition of his outstanding achievement as a coach.

Awards named after him


On March 21, 2010, the Over the Mountain Touchdown Club of Birmingham, Alabama presented the first annual Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year Award
Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year Award
The Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year Award is a college football award given annually to the nation's best head coach. Established in 2009, Nick Saban was the award's first recipient...

, named in honor of Coach Bowden and the contributions that he made during his career. The award recognizes a coach each year with unmatched success on and off of the field in the same attributes that Coach Bowden showed throughout his career: Preserverance, Attitude, Integrity, and Determination. University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban
Nick Saban
Nicholas Lou "Nick" Saban is the head coach of the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide football team. Saban has previously served as head coach of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins and three other NCAA universities: LSU, Michigan State and Toledo...

 was the first recipient of the award that was presented by Bobby Bowden himself. The award is presented each year after national signing day and before the commencement of Spring practice.

In 2004, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a non-profit interdenominational Christian organization founded in 1954 and that has been based in Kansas City, Missouri since 1956. It falls within the tradition of Muscular Christianity. Although established by evangelical Protestants, the concept has...

 presented the first of what is now a yearly award in Bowden's name, The National Bobby Bowden Award, honoring one college football player for his achievements on the field, in the classroom and in the community. The award is presented each year prior to the BCS
Bowl Championship Series
The Bowl Championship Series is a selection system that creates five bowl match-ups involving ten of the top ranked teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision , including an opportunity for the top two to compete in the BCS National Championship Game.The BCS relies on a combination of...

 national title.

In 2011, in recognition of his philanthropic efforts with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Bowden received the Children's Champion Award for Leadership Development from the charitable organization Children's Hunger Fund
Children's Hunger Fund
Children's Hunger Fund is a Christian non-profit organization founded in 1991 by Dave Phillips. CHF provides resources and training to local churches in the United States and in developing countries to help them meet the needs of impoverished communities...

.

Head coaching record


In his 44 seasons as a head coach, Bowden had 40 winning seasons (including 33 consecutive at Florida State), and 36 Division 1-A winning seasons. During the period 1987–2000, Bowden coached Florida State to 14 straight seasons with 10 or more victories, and his team had a final ranking of fifth or higher in both of the major polls.
‡ Twelve results, including six conference results, were vacated for use of ineligible players in 2006-07. While FSU must certify what contests ineligible players competed in, the wins from 2006-07 have all been implicated according to news sources.

See also


External links