It’s official, Bobby Bowden officially announced his retirement Tuesday afternoon, relinquishing his command of the program he built over the past 34 years.
Bowden, born and raised in Birmingham, AL would go on to play quarterback for the Crimson Tide from 1946-48.
His coaching career began as an assistant track and field coach at Howard University, now Samford University, in 1954 before becoming athletic director and head coach of baseball, basketball, and football coach at South Georgia College.
In 1959, Bowden returned to Howard to become head football coach while compiling a 31-6 record; those 31 wins heavily scrutinized by Penn St. fans as non-D1 wins.
Bowden became an assistant coach at Florida St. in 1963, along with legendary coaches Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs, before returning to West Virginia as an assistant in 1966.
In 1970, Bowden took over as head coach of the Mountaineers compiling a 42-26 record in his six years at the school. That same year, Bowden and West Virginia was involved with the rebuilding process of Marshall University after a tragic plane crash left all passengers dead.
Bowden was portrayed in the movie, We Are Marshall, as a person who provided game film and playbooks to help new Marshall head coach Jack Lengyel put together a new offense. Additionally, Mountaineer players wore green crosses on their jerseys and “MU” stickers on their helmets.
In 1976, Bowden settled in his final stomping grounds at Florida State after being pushed away from Alabama, a job he still admits he wanted at the time.
However, college football fans, specifically Seminole fans, could not appreciate Alabama’s reluctance any more, considering Bowden brought a team who won just four games in the previous three seasons to national prominence.
Other than his first season, Bowden has never coached a losing team. It’s hard to complain about a 5-6 record considering he acquired more wins in that ’76 season than FSU had in the previous three seasons.
In 34 years, Bowden has achieved 18 seasons with 10 or more wins, including two national championships in ’93 and ’99.
From 1987-2000, Bowden’s teams finished an unprecedented 14 years with 10-plus wins while finishing in the Top Five of both AP and Coaches polls. During that span, FSU played in five national championship games.
Bowden coached two fine quarterbacks, Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke, to Heisman Trophies, coincidentally the same years as the national championships.
From 1992, the year FSU joined the ACC, through 2005, FSU finished second in the ACC only twice while winning or tying for first every other year during that span.
Bowden has coached dozens of NFL players at FSU including prominent players like Derrick Brooks, Warrick Dunn, Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, Peter Boulware, and Corey Simon.
This past Saturday, before a 37-10 loss to archrival Florida, former players weighed in on the situation surrounding Bowden agreeing with much of the Seminole nation that Bowden has earned and deserves the right to walk out on his own terms.
In some ways, that opportunity was given to him, but not really. Sure, FSU President T.K. Wetherell and Athletic Director Randy Spetman offered an opportunity to stay on board as an ambassador; however, Bowden obviously felt that wasn’t enough.
Bowden’s retirement on Tuesday marks the end of one of two college football’s greatest active coaching legacies.
Bowden will retire with 388 wins with an opportunity to get one more in what may be a FSU-WVU matchup in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1.
According to Warchant.com, FSU’s Rivals.com site, Gator Bowl Association President Richard Catlett is more than willing to bring the two programs together on New Years Day in what would mark an historic event, much like that of the 2005 Orange Bowl between Penn St. and FSU.
Catlett and the association has already expressed their complete interest in putting this game together, although they still must receive permission from the ACC.
The Gator Bowl usually offers a bid to the runner-up of the ACC Championship game; however, they are not required to.
If given the opportunity, this would be an excellent way to end a career that compares to only a few legends like Joe Paterno, Bear Bryant, and Pop Warner.
It will be an interesting 2010 season not seeing Bowden on the sidelines in Tallahassee, walking back and forth, while looking for his headset to get an update.
College football fans across the nation will surely always appreciate what Bowden brought to college football; not only his dominance but the classy way he handled every situation.
Nowadays, with trash-talking coaches like Lane Kiffen of Tennessee, there aren’t too many head coaches that carry the class and ability to handle diversity the way Bowden has for decades.
Coaches and players everywhere should remember Bowden, not for what happened in the past few years, but for what he has brought to the game.
He brought class, dominance, and the ability to stand behind his kids because at the end of the day, “They’re all good kids.”
From one Seminole fan, Bobby, you will always be appreciated and never forgotten.
From The Sandlot , “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.”
Bobby Bowden is a legend.