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Legendary Bobby Bowden Retires
Photo – Coach Bobby Bowden
28 of Bobby Bowden's former players have been selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft over the last 20 years with one final draft class this spring.
One of the legendary college head coaches, Bobby Bowden retired yesterday after a 44 year coaching career. The great majority of his career was spent at Florida St where he won two national championships and competed for the title for two decades before recent problems. The 80-year-old coach retires as the second winningest head coach behind only Penn St’s Joe Paterno. He finishes with 389 career wins are second only to Paterno among major college head coaches. Coach Bobby Bowden was carried off the field by his players after the Seminoles upset No. 18 West Virginia 33-21 in the Gator Bowl. Bowden finished his career with a 389-129-4 record, and most importantly to him, a 33rd consecutive winning season. Bowden and Florida St finished the 2009 season with a 7-6 record and Gator Bowl victory over #18th ranked West Virginia, marking the 21st bowl victory in his illustrious career. Ironically, Bowden coached at West Virginia prior to taking the head position with the Seminoles. The Gator Bowl in the final game of Bowden’s storied 57-year coaching career. It was a pleasure knowing Bobby Bowden over my long scouting career first at the Kickoff Classics at the Meadowlands in the late '80s and then at Florida St in Tallahassee beginning in the early '90s. Bowden was a brilliant coach and a true gentleman who was always fair and honest with pro personnel executives and the huge contingent of media people who swarmed him and the high profile Seminole program over his long college career. He was always concerned with his players careers after their playing career at Florida St whether they went on to the NFL or into the work force.
“The winning was really a bonus,” Bowden said. “Knowing it’s your last game, I’ll be honest with you, I’m kind of interested in this retirement business. I ain’t got to set my alarm no more, I’ll get up when I’m darn good and ready, then like I say, go out and look for a job.”
Next week, Jimbo Fisher takes over at Florida State, which finished 7-6 for the third time in the last four years. That run of mediocrity was the 80-year-old Bowden’s downfall that essentially forced into retirement after Florida St offered him a lesser role for 2010. With under 2 minutes to go in the Gator bowl, Bowden went down to the Florida St band section, removing his autographed white cap and tossing it into the seats.
“It’s got to be memorable,” Bowden said. “It’s my last dadgum ballgame after 57 years of coaching.” Bowden leaves as major college football’s second-winningest coach. Joe Paterno earned his 394th victory Friday in the Capital One Bowl as Penn State beat LSU 19-17, now the official winner of the back-and-forth race to be the game’s all-time win leader, something that wasn’t lost on Bowden. Paterno could win No. 400 next year. By his own math, Bowden’s already beyond that benchmark. “How about them 22 wins I got at South Georgia College? How come they don’t count?” Bowden said, talking about where he was from 1956-58, before heading to Samford. “I know it doesn’t count NCAA, but will somebody mention, please, that I have 400 wins during my lifetime?” Bowden was head coach at Samford from 1959-62, led West Virginia from 1970-75 and took over at Florida St the next season. Bowden is the only coach in NCAA history to win 11 consecutive bowl games (1985-95) and the only coach ever with 14 consecutive bowl appearances (1982-95) without a loss (FSU tied Georgia 17-17 in the 1984 Citrus Bowl). Bowden and Florida St finished the 2006 season with an Emerald Bowl victory over UCLA.
Among his many accomplishments, one of the most amazing has to be the remarkable 14 straight top five finishes in the AP poll from 1987-2000. During that run Florida St was 152-18-1 and captured national championships in 1993 and 1999. In 1999 the team became the first and only squad to ever go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the AP poll. The Seminoles also played for the title three other times during that span and since 1993 no team in the FBS has played for more national titles than FSU. Bowden has won 12 ACC Championships since FSU joined the conference in 1992. Under Bowden's guidance, FSU has not only produced great teams, but many great players as well. Two Seminoles, Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy, 24 of his players have been named consensus All-Americans, three of his QB's have won the Johnny Unitas Award and two have won the Thorpe Award, the Butkus Award, the Davey O'Brien Award and the Lombardi Award.
Success on the field is not enough for Bobby Bowden as he expects his players to contribute more than just athletically. Two of Bowden's greatest players, Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks, went on to not only become phenomenal pros, but each defender were honored as the NFL's Man of the Year. Florida St is one of just five schools to produce multiple players to win the NFL's top award for community service.