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Morning Conversation: Bobby Bowden

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 1:59 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -Legendary FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden sat down with WCTV’s Michael Hudak to discuss the possibility of renaming Doak Campbell, football this fall and his top accomplishments.

Michael Hudak: COVID-19 has upended “normal life” for people across this world, especially in the world of sports. It has presented unprecedented challenges for coaches and players across the U.S. I’m wondering — if you were a head coach right now, what methods would you use as a head coach and as a leader of men during all of this? How would you keep your program and its supporters united on all fronts?

Bobby Bowden: “I’d resign (laughs). No, you know, I’d try to do what they are doing. I would call other coaches and say, “What are y’all doing?” ... “How are y’all handling it?” I’d try to talk to as many people as i can.”

MH: Should college football be played this fall, Or do you think this season should be postponed?

BB: “No, I think they ought to try to do it if they can, as long as we’re not putting kids at risk. The nation’s crying for it.”

MH: There have been discussions and considerations, including from President John Thrasher, to rename Doak Campbell Stadium, saying that Doak S. Campbell resisted integration. There is a petition to remove his name from the stadium, and for 99.9 percent of people, when you ask them who the stadium should be re-named after, the first person that they say is you.

What are your thoughts on this? Would you want the stadium to be named after you?

BB: “Well naturally, I would, but I’ll leave that completely up to them. I’ll stay out of that. But I’ve seen stadiums with two names on it. Bryant-Denny stadium in Alabama has two names, I think the Auburn stadium has two names. So, it can be done.”

MH: You’ve said before, he who gets the best players usually wins. What are your thoughts on FSU’s current team, and what advice would you give coach Norvell and the Seminoles as they embark on this new season?

BB: “There’s not much advice that I can give him. The reason is — he covers everything. He’s so thorough with what he’s doing. Yeah, I still believe that whoever has the best players is going to win.”

MH: There have been cries and protests and unrest around the country as it pertains to the Black Lives Matter movement. And right alongside those protesters, you now have players and coaches from D-1 programs all the way up to the pros.

What’s different about this day in age from when you were coaching is that players have social media, where they can share their opinion at the drop of a hat. What are your thoughts about the voice that players have now, and the action that’s taking place?

BB: “That is a good question buddy. When I first started coaching 65 years ago, if I told the kids to run through that wall, he better not say a word, just go hit it. And they would do it. That’s not the way it is anymore. When a coach says ‘Do something,' now it’s, ‘Why? ... why?’ and it’s hard for old timers to get used to. But that’s kind of the way it is.”

MH: I want to know, what was your favorite pre-game meal or ritual? What did it take to get the legendary Bobby Bowden ready for action?

BB: “The pregame meal all over the country was a piece of toast, an egg on top of it and green peas. That was the pregame meal. Then later on it became pizza. Then later on it became steak. But, you know, it’s hard to go out and play a ballgame with a full steak in your belly.”

MH: What was your greatest accomplishment and perhaps your greatest regret as a head coach?

BB: “We won over 300 games here, under one head coach. There’s only two coaches that have ever done that. The worst defeat I ever had, I’m going to tell you, because the people around here don’t know this. When I was at West Virginia, we were playing Pitt. We were only 50 miles apart. We got ahead of them at the half, we were leading 35-8, and got beat. Oh, that was terrible, boy. So you look back and you say ‘Boy if I had done this instead of that’ ... But it’s easy to coach after the game is over.”

MH: Lastly, you’ve also been one of the best at when there is a loss or a tough defeat, picking those people back up, and making them want to run through that brick wall again, making them recover and come back 10 times stronger. It’s something that the country, and especially people here in the southeast, are dealing with right now. They’ve been hit hard by the pandemic and things that are going on right now. They are looking for some kind of inspiration.

If you could provide, in words, some kind of inspiration to them, what would you say to them?

BB: “Alright what you just described, that’s life today. I don’t care what profession you’re in or what you do, you’re gonna get knocked down. And that’s one thing football teaches you. You get knocked down, get up. People have a problem, and they think they’re the only ones that got a problem. You know, ‘I’ve really got a problem. I feel so sorry for me.’ Everybody has some kind of problem that other people don’t know about. And to be a success, is the guy that can fight through the problem, which most people can. Strong people can. And only the weak cannot. But, problems? Get used to it baby, it’s the way of life.”

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