Robert Cleckler Bowden was an American college football coach who served from November 8, 1929, to August 8, 2021. Bowden coached the Florida State Seminoles of Florida State University (FSU) from 1976 to 2009, and his achievements with the Seminoles are rated among the best in college football history.
Bowden led Florida State to an Associated Press and Coaches Poll National Championship in 1993 and a BCS National Championship in 1999, as well as twelve Atlantic Coast Conference titles since joining the conference in 1991. Bowden’s Seminoles were ranked in the top five by the Associated Press for 14 straight seasons, a record that surpassed the next closest programme.
However, the programme deteriorated in the mid-2000s, and President T.K. Wetherell sacked Bowden only weeks after his 80th birthday, following a dismal 2009 season. On January 1, 2010, he made his final coaching appearance in the 2010 Gator Bowl, defeating his former team, West Virginia, 33–21. Bowden spent the latter years of his career competing with Joe Paterno for the title of all-time winningest NCAA Division I college football coach. Throughout the 2000s, the coaches caught up to each other, sitting just a game apart before the 2008 college football season.
However, on March 6, 2009, an NCAA judgement ordered Florida State to “vacate wins for any games in which an ineligible athlete played,” potentially removing as many as fourteen of Bowden’s victories from the 2006 and 2007 seasons due to an academic controversy. Florida State challenged the decision, but it was affirmed by the NCAA on January 5, 2010. Bowden was ordered to forfeit 12 victories after a final review by FSU, putting his overall career record to 377–129–4, second only to Paterno’s 409 wins.
Bobby Bowden Bio/Wiki[table id=3315 /]
Bowden is the son of Bob Bowden and Sunset (née Cleckler) Bowden and was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Bowden was diagnosed with rheumatic fever when he was 13 years old. He was confined to his bed at home for just over a year after a six-month hospital stint. Bowden passed the time while unwell by listening to World War II stories on the radio, which sparked a lifelong interest in the conflict. He also began to watch college football at this time, as he would listen to University of Alabama football on Saturday mornings.
Bowden was a standout football player at Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School, and he received a scholarship to play quarterback for the University of Alabama. However, the programme deteriorated in the mid-2000s, and President T.K. Wetherell sacked Bowden only weeks after his 80th birthday, following a dismal 2009 season. On January 1, 2010, he made his final coaching appearance in the 2010 Gator Bowl, defeating his former team, West Virginia, 33–21.
Bowden spent the latter years of his career competing with Joe Paterno for the title of all-time winningest NCAA Division I college football coach. Throughout the 2000s, the coaches caught up to each other, sitting just a game apart before the 2008 college football season.
Bowden married his childhood sweetheart, Ann Estock, in 1949, and the pair had six children and 21 grandkids. Bowden was a devout Christian who attributed his football prowess to his religion. In both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, he backed and supported US President Donald Trump.
Bowden’s father was also a Division I-A football coach. Tommy Bowden, his son, was the head coach at Clemson University. Terry Bowden, another son, was the head coach at Auburn University and was named Coach of the Year in 1993. Jeff Bowden, a third son, was the offensive coordinator at Florida State University.
Terry Bowden led Auburn to an unbeaten season in 1993, Tommy led Tulane to an undefeated season in 1998, and Bobby led Florida State to an undefeated season in 1999. Bobby’s Florida State teams of 1993 and 1999 were the only ones to win a national title. In October 2020, Bowden was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Bowden was diagnosed with a fatal medical ailment on July 21, 2021, according to reports. His son informed him that he had pancreatic cancer on July 23. He died on August 8th, early in the morning. On August 13, he was laid to rest in the rotunda of the Florida Capitol Building. Later that day, he was laid to rest outside of Doak Campbell Stadium at the Moore Athletic Center.
On August 14, a memorial ceremony for Bowden was conducted at the Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee. On August 15, Bowden was laid to rest in the Reid Chapel at Samford University before being buried in Trussville, Alabama.
- From 1954 to 1955, Bowden worked at Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham, Alabama as an assistant football coach and head track & field coach.
- From 1956 to 1958, he worked at South Georgia College as the athletic director and head football, baseball, and basketball coach.
- Bowden resigned as head coach after a disappointing basketball season.
- Between 1959 through 1962, Bowden returned to Howard as head coach, compiling a 31–6 record.
- Bowden joined Florida State University as an assistant coach under Bill Peterson in 1962.
- Bowden departed Florida State in 1965 to work as an assistant coach at West Virginia University (WVU) under Jim Carlen.
- Bowden took over when Carlen resigned after the 1969 season to become the head coach at Texas Tech. Bowden then went on to WVU, where he had a 42–26 record before returning to FSU as head coach in 1976.
- The football squad of Marshall University, the state’s second top-division institution, was killed in a plane accident during Bowden’s first year as head coach at WVU.
- He requested and was refused permission from the NCAA to wear Marshall jerseys and participate in Marshall’s last game of the 1970 season versus Ohio.
- Mountaineers players wore green crosses with the initials “MU” on their helmets in honour of the crash victims.
- Marshall’s new head coach, Jack Lengyel, was given access to game footage and playbooks by Bowden to familiarise himself with the veer scheme, a variant of the option concept that helps teams with weak offensive lines.
- Bowden, according to Lengyel, was instrumental in the Thundering Herd’s recovery.
- Bowden was allegedly moved to tears when seeing the film We Are Marshall, and has stated that he was the original contender for the Marshall head coaching position, which was eventually filled by accident survivor Rick Tolley.
- Bowden took over as head coach of the Florida State Seminoles in 1976, the same site where he had coached wide receivers, since the climate was milder in Tallahassee than in Morgantown and because it was closer to Birmingham, Alabama, where his mother and mother-in-law both lived.
- The squad had a 4–29 record in the previous three seasons, and he intended to only stay for a short time before moving on to a bigger job, maybe as head coach at Alabama.
- At Florida State, Bowden swiftly rose to prominence.
- Bowden faced suspicions that he would quit after his second season, when the club won 9–2, compared to four victories in the three seasons preceding Bowden.
- He stated that he would be pleased to complete his career at Florida State and that he would “never coach anywhere north of Tallahassee,” according to another athletic department staffer.
- He only had one losing season in his 34 years as head coach–his first, in 1976–and turned down head coaching offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons.
- The Seminoles won the national title in 1993 and 1999, ended every season with at least 10 victories and were in the top five of the Associated Press College Football Poll from 1987 through 2000.
- From 1992 through 2000, the club was especially dominating after joining the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), winning or sharing nine straight conference titles and only losing two conference games.
- After a defeat to Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange Bowl, Bowden’s career came to a close with a third consecutive trip to the national championship game after the 2000 season.
- They started the next season with an upset loss to North Carolina, 41–9, only their third loss in ACC play.
- They completed 8–4, their first eight-game losing streak in 15 years.
- It was also the first time they had not won at least a share of the ACC title since joining the conference; in fact, their two defeats in ACC play were more than they had suffered in their first nine years in the league.
- Bowden only made one more appearance in the top ten of a final media poll after that, in 2003–the last time he won ten games in a season.
- Because Florida State and Clemson are in the same ACC football division, the two teams faced each other every year from 1999 to 2007 in a game known as the “Bowden Bowl.”
- In 1999, a father and son faced off as opposing head coaches in a football game for the first time in Division I-A history.
- Bobby had a 5–4 series lead, with all four losses coming in the final five games.
- When Terry Bowden was the Auburn coach in 1999, one Bowden Bowl was arranged between Auburn and Florida State.
- Terry’s mid-season resignation in 1998, however, put a stop to the chance of a Bowden Bowl.
- In 2008, Clemson and Florida State were supposed to play in another Bowden Bowl, but Tommy Bowden’s retirement midway through the year put a stop to the series.
In 1980, Bowden received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. In 1991, he was named Walter Camp Coach of the Year. Bowden won the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award from the United States Sports Academy in 1992 for his great achievements as a coach.
The first annual Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year Award was awarded on March 21, 2010, by the Over the Mountain Touchdown Club of Birmingham, Alabama, in honour of Bowden and his efforts over his career. Each year, the award honours a coach who has excelled on and off the field in the same qualities that Bowden demonstrated during his career: persistence, attitude, integrity, and drive.
The inaugural recipient of the honour was University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who received it from Bowden himself. Every year, the honour is handed out following national signing day and before the start of spring practice.
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes gave the inaugural of what has now become an annual award in Bowden’s honour in 2003.
Former Bowden assistant coach Vince Gibson and former Bowden player Vernon Brinson founded the award. It recognises a college football player’s contributions on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. The Seminole Tribe of Florida became the award’s official sponsor in 2013.
The Florida Seminole Tribe Each year, prior to the College Football Playoff (CFP) national championship, the Bobby Bowden Student-Athlete of the Year Award is awarded. Bowden won the Children’s Champion Award for Leadership Development from the humanitarian organisation Children’s Hunger Fund in 2011 in appreciation of his philanthropic activities with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Bobby Bowden Net Worth
Bobby Bowden’s net worth is believed to be $14 million, according to several sources. The now-retired coach’s coaching profession contributed significantly to his net worth. Bobby was a fantastic coach in his peak, with a smart intellect that earned him a large income. According to sources, from 2006 to 2009, the retiring coach earned an average of $2.052 million each year.
Bowden is also a published novelist, and his several bestsellers have surely contributed to his current fortune. In addition, the retired coach now works as a motivational speaker.
He has died in 2021 at the age of 91 years.
5 Ft 11 inches