The life and career of Bobby Bowden

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A look at the life and career of legendary Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden

1929 – Bobby Bowden is born in Birmingham, Alabama.

1948 -- Bowden fulfills a lifelong dream of enrolling at the University of Alabama to play football. He later enrolled at Howard College (now Samford University) where he played the rest of his playing career.

1949 – A 19-year-old Bowden marries Ann Estock. Together they have six children and 21 grandchildren. They will celebrate their 68th anniversary in April.

1954 -- After graduating the previous year. Bowden becomes an assistant football coach and the head track and field coach at Howard.

1956 -- Bowden accepts first head coaching job at South Georgia State College in Waycross, where he also serves as the basketball coach, baseball coach, and Athletic Director.

1959 -- Bowden takes the head coaching job at Howard College, his Alma Mater.

1963 – Bowden makes his first stop in Tallahassee as the wide receivers coach at Florida State. He stays for three seasons before taking the Offensive Coordinator position at West Virginia.

1970 – Bowden is named head coach of West Virginia. He compiles a 46-26 record as head coach of the Mountaineers.

1975 – Bowden wins his first bowl game, a 13-10 victory over North Carolina State, in the Peach Bowl. West Virginia had lost the Peach Bowl to Lou Holtz and the NC State in 1972.

1976 – Bobby Bowden becomes the head coach of Florida State. In 2010 he wrote in the New York Times that he came to Tallahassee because the weather was warmer than in Morgantown, and because he and Ann would both be closer to their mothers in Birmingham. He also wrote that he didn’t originally plan to stay in Tallahassee long.

1977 – Bowden leads the Seminoles to the Tangerine Bowl (now the Citrus Bowl) in his second season at Florida State. The Seminoles finished the year with a 10-2 record and ranked 11th in the final Coaches Poll.

1980 -- Bowden awarded the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year award after leading FSU to a 10-2 record.

1983 -- Bowden becomes the all-time winningest coach in Florida State football history in a decisive 43-17 homecoming victory over Cincinnati at Doak Campbell Stadium.

1987 -- Bowden wins his 100th game as coach of Florida State, a 28-14 win over the Florida Gators in the final game of the regular season.

1987 -- Bowden and the Seminoles begin a streak of 14 straight finishes in the Associated Press and Coaches Poll top five.

1991 -- Bowden awarded the Walter Camp Coach of the Year award after leading FSU to an 11-2 record, including a win in the program’s first and only Cotton Bowl.

1992 -- Florida State joins the Atlantic Coast Conference, where they won’t lose a conference game until 1995, their fourth season in the ACC.

1993-94 – After six straight top-five finishes, Bowden and the Seminoles beat the Nebraska Cornhuskers 18-16 in the Orange Bowl to win the program’s first national championship behind the talents of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Charlie Ward and consensus All –American linebacker Derrick Brooks.

1994 -- Bowden authors his first book, titled “More than Just a Game.” He would go on to publish four more books: “Winning’s Only Part of the Game: Lessons of Life and Football” (1996) with son, Terry, “The Bowden Way” (2001), “Bobby Bowden’s Tales from the Seminole Sidelines” (2004), “Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith and Football” (2011), and “The Wisdom of Faith” (2014).

1996 – Florida State falls to rival-Florida in the Sugar Bowl 52-20 as the Gators run away in the second half of the de-facto National Championship Game, just weeks after FSU beat Florida. It’s the first time in 16 seasons that Bowden and the Seminoles lose a bowl game and ends a streak of 11 straight bowl wins.

1998 – Florida State falls to Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl in what is the first BCS National Championship game.

1999 -- Bobby’s son Tommy Bowden takes over as head coach of FSU’s ACC-rival Clemson University, creating the annual ‘Bowden Bowl’ for the next nine seasons. The 1999 meeting was the first time father and son met in Division I-A football as opposing head coaches. In nine meetings, Bobby held the edge over Tommy, 5-4.

1999 – Bowden leads Florida State to a 12-0 season and their second national championship in a 46-29 win over Michael Vick and Virginia Tech. It marks the second time Florida State finishes with an undefeated record.

2000 -- Bowden leads FSU to its third-straight BCS National Championship game and coaches his second Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in Chris Weinke. Weinke leads the national with 4,167 passing yards and rakes up numerous other awards, but FSU falls to Oklahoma 13-2 in the Orange Bowl.

2001 -- Florida State fails to win at least 10 games in a season since 1986, finishing with an 8-4 record. The Seminoles still finish the season with a win in the Gator Bowl and ranked 15th.

2004 -- A 9-foot tall bronze statue of Bowden is erected outside of Doak Campbell Stadium in September. Later in the year, a three-story tall stained-glass window depicting Bowden overlooking the field is unveiled at the stadium. The playing surface at Doak Campbell Stadium is also named after Bowden.

2007 -- Nearly two dozen players are suspended for Music City Bowl against Kentucky after it was determined they received improper assistance in a course. FSU lost the game 35-28 to the Wildcats and 10 players are suspended for the first three games of the 2008 season.

2007 -- Jimbo Fisher joins the Florida State coaching staff as Offensive Coordinator and quarterback coach. He is named Bowden’s eventual successor at Florida State.

2007 -- Bowden treated for prostate cancer. Not disclosed until 2011, Bowden says he kept his condition private because he didn’t want the issue to take away attention from the team.

2009 -- Five wins are vacated from the 2006 season, and seven wins are vacated from the 2007 season as part of sanctions for the earlier violations of NCAA rules

2009 -- Bobby Bowden announces that he will retire after 44 years of coaching, including 34 years and a 315-97-4 record at Florida State.

2010 -- The Bowden chapter at Florida State comes to a close as Bowden and the Seminoles win their last game together, a 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl. The Seminoles finish with a 7-6 record after beginning the season 2-4.

2013 -- Bowden returns to Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time since his retirement. He plants Osceola’s spear at midfield prior to FSU’s game against NC State. Nearly 400 of Bowden’s former players are in attendance and FSU beats the Wolfpack 49-17 on their win to winning the program’s third national title. Jameis Winston becomes the third Seminole to win the Heisman Trophy.



 
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