Bowden To Retire After Season
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Bobby Bowden says he hasn't done as
well as he wanted these past few seasons at Florida State, "but
I've had wonderful years, no regrets ... nothing lasts forever,
Bowden will end his 44-year coaching career after the Seminoles
play in a bowl game, bringing a close to one of the greatest runs
in major-college football.
A relaxed-looking Bowden was interviewed by school officials and
a video was made available Tuesday.
"You know something like this is going to happen," he said.
"If it didn't happen now it would be happening this time next year
... As long as my family is happy, that's the main thing. So I'll
go out and make a lot of talks now and tell everybody how good I
The 80-year Bowden was pretty "dadgum" good.
Bowden will retire as the second winningest coach in
major-college football behind Penn State's Joe Paterno. The folksy
coach has won 388 games at Samford, West Virginia and Florida
State, where he spent the last 34 seasons.
"We've got one more game and I look forward to enjoying these
next few weeks as the head football coach," Bowden said earlier in
a statement released by the school.
The Seminoles are bowl eligible at 6-6, and were awaiting word
on where they will play.
Bowden won two national titles with Florida State, in 1993 and
1999. Among his top achievements is a string of 14 straight seasons
ending in 2000 when the Seminoles won at least 10 games and
finished ranked in the top five of the AP poll. Florida State was
152-19-1, an .864 winning percentage, during that span. He has a
315-97-4 record with the Seminoles, but his teams were 73-42 the
past nine seasons.
"He set records of achievement on the field that will probably
never be equaled," Florida State president T.K. Wetherell said.
"Bobby Bowden in many ways became the face of Florida State. It
was his sterling personality and character that personified this
FSU officials announced after the 2007 season that offensive
coordinator Jimbo Fisher would succeed Bowden.
The end of the Bowden era has been brewing for years, and the
call for change only grew louder this year, when loss after loss,
many coming in the final minutes, began piling up. The regular
season ended with a sixth straight loss to bitter rival Florida, a
Bowden is a football lifer, who modeled his career after his
idol Paul "Bear" Bryant, the legendary Alabama coach who died
shortly after he retired in 1982.
"After you retire, there's only one big event left," Bowden
has said over the years. "And I ain't ready for that."
Paterno called Bowden a tough competitor who "has meant an
awful lot to the universities he coached and to the game of
"He and his wife, Ann, have dedicated their lives with untold
hours to better the teams and universities they cared so much
about," Paterno said. "They will be missed by the coaching
profession and college football."
Bowden is one of the most quotable coaches the game has known.
He relished the spotlight and his "aw shucks" approach was well
received everywhere he went. It was during the rare losses when
Bowden was at his best, relying on his favorite phrase "Dadgumit"
when discussing all those wide-right and wide-left field goals
against Miami in the late 1980s and early 1990s that knocked so
many of his teams out of national title contention.
On Tuesday, there was more of the same. He said his family
doesn't have to worry about his well being: "Now, you know I have
to go out and get a job. Can you believe that? I've got to go get a
job. I ain't had a job in 55 years."
Bowden also got caught up in NCAA investigations. The school was
hit with five years' probation for a 1993 incident when several of
his players were given free shoes and sporting goods from a local
store. That led to former Florida coach Steve Spurrier calling
Florida State "Free Shoes University."
Bowden entered this season faced with losing 14 of his wins as
part of sanctions from the NCAA on an academic cheating scandal
that involved two dozen football players. The school is appealing.
Bowden and winning, though, go hand in hand. He goes into a
final bowl game with a 388-129-4 record. After his first Florida
State team went 5-6 in 1976, the Seminoles never had a losing
Among the stars who played for Bowden were Heisman Trophy
winning quarterbacks Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke, defensive backs
Deion Sanders and LeRoy Butler, running back Warrick Dunn, receiver
Peter Warrick and nose guard Ron Simmons.
Bowden's national titles came in '93 with Ward guiding the
Seminoles to a 12-1 record and a title-clinching win over Nebraska
in the Orange Bowl. The next national crown came six years later,
with Weinke and All-American Warrick leading the 'Noles to a
perfect 12-0 record capped by a win over Michael Vick and Virginia
Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
The '93 title was perhaps Bowden's greatest moment. It came
after near misses in 1987, 1988, 1991 and 1992 - thanks to missed
kicks against Miami. In '87, it was a missed field goal, missed
extra point and failed 2-point conversion in a 26-25 loss; in '88
the 'Noles only loss was 31-0 against Miami in the season-opener;
in '91 Gerry Thomas was wide right in a 17-16 loss; and in '92, Dan
Mowrey was wide right on a game-tying attempt in a 19-16 loss. Wide
right III occurred in a 2000 loss against Miami, but Florida State
still made it to the title game before losing to Oklahoma 13-2.
Bowden's lone perfect season in '99 made history as the
Seminoles became the first team to go wire-to-wire in AP ranked No.
1 from preseason to final poll.
"The first championship was more of a relief," Bowden said.
"I think I was able to enjoy the second one a little more."
A few more failed field goals against Miami followed. In 2002,
Xavier Beitia was wide left on a last-play, 43-yard attempt in
28-27 loss and Beitia was wide right late in the fourth quarter in
a 16-14 Orange Bowl loss to Miami in 2004.
Other than Miami, Bowden's Seminoles were a dominant force. They
won the Atlantic Coast Conference 12 times in their first 14
seasons after joining the league in 1992.
Bowden left West Virginia to take over an FSU program in 1976
that had produced just four wins in the three previous seasons.
After one losing season, Bowden turned things around with a
philosophy of preparing for games like World War II generals
prepared for battles.
"You face similar tasks of motivation, preparation, teamwork,
discipline," Bowden said. "I probably get the most satisfaction
out of putting in the strategies and watching them play out."
Bowden built up Florida State's program by scheduling tough
opponents - usually on the road. He was dubbed "King of the Road"
in 1981 after playing consecutive road games at Nebraska, Ohio
State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and LSU. The Seminoles won three of
Success also brought the spotlight to Bowden's program. First
came the "Free Shoes University" incident, followed by top
recruit Randy Moss being kicked out of school for smoking
marijuana; Warrick's suspension in 1999 for his involvement in a
shopping scam; quarterback Adrian McPherson's dismissal in 2002
amid rumors of gambling; and now the cheating scandal.
Bowden, native of Birmingham, Ala., also is the patriarch of
college football's most famous coaching family. Sons Tommy and
Terry were head coaches - Tommy at Tulane and Clemson; Terry at
Auburn and currently at North Alabama. Another son, Jeff, was FSU's
offensive coordinator in 2005-06, but the team had its lowest
production in a quarter-century and lost 11 times over those two
seasons. He was forced to resign after working for his father for
Bowden's oldest son, Steve, did not get into coaching but was
arrested in 2003 on a multimillion investment scam that cost his
father $1.6 million.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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