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Remembering Bobby Bowden as more than a coach

Remembering Bobby Bowden as more than a coach
Posted at 11:30 AM, Aug 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 20:07:55-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Today we remember a legend, beloved former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden has died at the age of 91.

This is tough news for Noles Nation.

Florida State University made the announcement this morning that he died at 5:08 Sunday morning at his home surrounded by his wife and 6 children.

Bowden's death comes less than 3 weeks after he announced he was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.

Bowden is a Hall of Fame coach who won more than 350 games and built Florida State into one of college football's great dynasties with two national championships.

Here's a look back at the life and legacy of the coaching legend.

Robert "Bobby" Bowden was born in 1929 in Birmingham Alabama. Rheumatic fever confined him to his home for over a year, a time where his love for college football began.

Bowden listened to Alabama games on the radio - he would play for them for a year before transferring to what is now known as Samford University.

Bowden's first appearance in Tallahassee? As an assistant coach in 1962 -- he'd return to Florida State almost 15 years later and he'd never leave.

"I was here so long, so long. Forty years, forty years I was here!"

In 34 seasons as head coach of the Seminoles, he had just one losing season. Bowden won two National titles and twelve Conference Championships. And the driver behind it all? His faith.

"A lot of times you say should I quit? Should I do something else? I'm not winning, then my faith will always bring me back," remarked Bowden.

A faith that's taken him all over the country to speak to all different kinds of people. The message? For Bowden, without faith, there would be no football -- and that's what he tried to instill to the hundreds of young men that passed through his program.

"I think one thing you enjoy most about coaching is the relationship you have with the boys when they raise a family and they raise children and you haven't seen them in ten years, five years," said Bowden. "I get letters all the time from boys, you know I coached 57 years, I get letters from boys I coached 40 to 50 years ago. None of them mention football."

It's a philosophy that's won the heart of fans, a spot in the College Football Hall of fame, and the inaugural Governor's Medal of Freedom in 2021.

"I could not have received a greater honor than this," Bowden said about the Medal of Freedom.

It's an honor, and one he's proud to share with Florida State, and with Tallahassee -- his home.

"After I retired we didn't want to be but one place and that was right here," said Bowden.

Bowden is survived by his wife Ann, their six children and 21 grandchildren.

FSU President John Thrasher released this statement remembering Coach Bowden:

“Florida State University has lost a legend in the passing of Bobby Bowden. On behalf of everyone at FSU, Jean and I extend our deepest condolences to Ann and the Bowden family. Coach Bowden built a football dynasty and raised the national profile of Florida State University, and he did it with class and a sense of humor. While he leaves an incredible legacy as one of the best football coaches in collegiate history, he also will be remembered for his great faith, his love of family and his mentorship of countless young people. He will be profoundly missed.”
John Thrasher

FSU Athletic Director also talked of Coach Bowden's impact on those who were around him:

“Mary and I are saddened by the loss of our beloved Coach Bowden, as are generations of Florida State fans and alumni. He impacted the lives of so many people and leaves a legacy at FSU and in college football that will be remembered forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ann and the entire Bowden family.”
David Coburn

Current FSU football coach Mike Norvell spoke about the man Coach Bowden was: