Bobby Bowden Passes Away At 91

August 8, 2021 by Staff

Bobby Bowden, the legendary head football coach who turned Florida State into a national powerhouse, has passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 91.

Bowden led the Seminoles' football program from 1976 to 2009 and was selected to the college Football Hall of Fame in 2006. His head coaching career in Tallahassee began 11 years after he ended a 3-year stint as wide receivers coach under then-head coach Bill Peterson. Bowden left that job for a promotion to offensive coordinator at West Virginia in 1966 and he later became the Mountaineers' head football coach in 1970.

After six seasons produced a 42-26 mark in Morgantown, Bowden returned to FSU to begin a remarkable career as the head coach. Peterson, his mentor, had left after the 1970 season and Florida State's football path had taken a steep nose dive from its success in the 1960's. It didn't tale long for Bowden to reverse course.

A 5-6 inaugural campaign would be Bowden's only losing season. 

From 1982 to 1995, Florida State had a 14-game unbeaten streak in bowl games. When the 'Noles entered the ACC in 1992, Bowden's teams promptly reeled off 7 straight outright conference titles and 2 shared crowns.

His official NCAA record as head coach was 377-129-4, including a 22-10-1 in bowl games.

Bowden's 1993 team delivered the school its first national championship with an 18-16 win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. The contest was made possible by the formation of the Bowl Coalition a year earlier. The Coalition gave way to the Bowl Alliance in 1995, which ultimately was replaced the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 1998. It was in the second year of the BCS that Florida State won a second national championship by defeating Michael Vick and Virginia Tech 46-29 in the Sugar Bowl to conclude the 1999 season.

Bowden's son, Tommy and Terry also became successful head football coaches. While Tommy was at Clemson, the annual father-son rivalry became one of college football's most anticipated regular season games. Dad won the first four meetings in what came to be known as "The Bowden Bowl", but his son took four of the next five. Ultimately, Tommy resigned after a 3-3 start in 2008 and was replaced by wide receivers coach, Dabo Swinney.

Terry had stints at Auburn and Akron, and currently leads the program at ULM.

The Bobby Bowden head coaching tree includes Mark Richt (Georgia, Miami), Kirby Smart (Georgia), Chuck Amato (N.C. State), Jimbo Fisher (Florida State, Texas A&M), Manny Diaz (Miami), and Skip Holtz (East Carolina, USF, Louisiana Tech).

Bowden is survived by his wife Ann, sons Terry, Tommy, Jeff and Steve; and daughters Robyn Hines and Ginger Madden.