Division II college football, that is.
After nearly nine years away from coaching, Terry Bowden has been named the new head coach of the University of North Alabama Lions.
While some will argue that going from being the head coach of Auburn (Bowden's last head coaching position) to coaching at Division II UNA is a significant downgrade, I will have to respectfully disagree for several reasons.
First of all, the Lions are one of the most successful teams in Division II football. The man Bowden is replacing, Mark Hudspeth (who left UNA for a spot on Dan Mullen's new Mississippi State staff), led the Lions to four straight seasons of 10-plus wins and four straight trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs.
In addition, UNA holds the current Division II record for postseason wins with a robust 26 victories. This is not a program Bowden will have to build from the ground up like he did during his coaching days at Salem College and Samford University.
Secondly, this hire signifies a rekindling of Bowden's desire to coach. The chances of him getting hired by a big name Division I program like Auburn after being out of the game for so long were pretty slim, so he played it smart by going with a top dog Division II program.
He picked a school that will allow him to prove he can still win against the top competition. And trust me, Bowden will win at UNA. The program is already established. Players come to UNA because they know they will get a realistic shot at the playoffs every year.
Granted, losing a head coach can definitely hurt a program's recruiting strength. But that will not matter with Bowden as the replacement. Bowden's success at Auburn made him a household name in Alabama, as well as most of the Southeast. The majority of UNA's roster is made up of Alabamians who grew up cheering on, or at least watching, his Auburn Tigers from '93-'98.
My prediction is that players will flock to play for Coach Bowden as he takes over this well-established and successful program. However, I am following up that prediction with a caveat for Lions fans: Don't get too comfortable with Bowden's presence.
While the UNA Lions are a great Division II football program, they are also exactly that: A great Division II football program. They are not, and never will be, the Auburn Tigers, or any comparable Division I team.
Bowden is only 52 (as if age is even relevant, just look at his dad), so he has more than enough time to crank out a few successful seasons at UNA and set his sights on bigger and better things.
And that is exactly what he will do.