Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is possibly Alabama's most famous fan.
He grew up in Birmingham following his crimson idols. He almost played for the Tide except school policy at the time would not allow married students to play on the team, so he played at Samford instead.
He looked to Coach Bryant for advice and Bryant steered players he wouldn't be able to use Bowden's way.
As recently as 2007, when his Florida State team played Alabama in Jacksonville, Fla., he referred to Alabama as "we" in an ESPN interview. (For more information on Bowden and Bama, see http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/feature/featureVideo?page=bowden/bama)
Perhaps fittingly, although Bowden's Seminoles beat Nick Saban's Tide 21 - 14 on the field, a victory by either team would not have counted, as both teams have had victories from that season vacated by the NCAA.
Recently, Bowden presented Saban with the Over the Mountain Birmingham Touchdown Club's inaugural Bobby Bowden Coach of the Year Award.
He had to relish presenting the inaugural award to an Alabama coach, particularly one whose father he knew, and who he offered an assistant's job to to allow him to be closer to home when his father passed away.
We know Bowden has said he isn't going to be sticking around Tallahassee to get in Jimbo Fisher's way. Some of that feeling is most likely legitimate and some may be a classy way of saying he isn't going to stick around to fund-raise for Florida St. as trustees had hoped.
What we don't know is when he will return to the stands at Bryant-Denny as a fan.
He may not do it in 2010 in deference to Jimbo Fisher, and so as to not look like he's trying to publicly favor a rival school out of spite. But Bowden has to be dying to return and see his old team once again in his golden years.
I think he's back in the stands during the 2011 season, if not sooner.
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