The world of college football lost a legend on Sunday morning, Florida State officials announced. Legendary FSU head coach Bobby Bowden was diagnosed with a terminal illness in July, and he died Sunday morning at the age of 91.
The Hall of Fame coach spent 33 years at the helm of FSU football, leading the Seminoles to a 304-97-4 record and two national championships in the 1990s. He finished his career as the second-winningest coach in the history of NCAA Division I football coach of all time with a 377-129-4 record.
Forever a football legend.
Rest In Peace Bobby Bowden 🙏🙏🙏
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 8, 2021
Bowden’s Seminoles won the national championship in 1993 and 1999, and his final collegiate game with FSU, conveniently enough, came against West Virginia. FSU defeated WVU in the 2010 Gator Bowl 33-21. The victory came 40 years after his initial hire at WVU as head coach.
Thank you Coach Bowden for your impact on college football. Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Bowden family. pic.twitter.com/SHzx3yfx6t
— WVU Football (@WVUfootball) August 8, 2021
From 1970-75, Bowden served at the helm of WVU football, replacing former head coach Jim Carlen. In five seasons with the Mountaineers, Bowden led WVU to a 42-26 record, capped off with a win in the 1975 Peach Bowl over North Carolina State. The following season, he returned to Florida State as the new head coach and took the Seminoles to unseen heights.
However, in an act of in-state solidarity that supersedes football, after the plane crash that killed all the members of the Marshall football team, Bowden helped the team get back on its feet. WVU wore green crosses on their helmets, along with the initials “MU”, in honor of the Marshall football team.
Additionally, Bowden also helped Marshall’s new coach Jack Lengyel by allowing him to access game tapes and playbooks in order for the Thundering Herd to get back to playing football more quickly. Lengyel even credited Bowden for helping Marshall get back on their feet.
Bowden took over a Florida State team in 1976 that had gone 4-29 over the last three seasons. By 1977, FSU won 10 games in a single season. FSU won 10 or more games 18 times during Bowden’s time at the helm of the program — including a stretch of a 14 straight from 1987-2000, that included an unbeaten season in 1999.
FSU won 12 ACC championships with Bowden in charge, and for his efforts, he was named as the coach of the year on two separate occasions with the Bobby Dodd COY and the Walter Camp Coach of the Year trophies. He was honored for his outstanding achievement as a coach with the United States Sports Academy’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award.
Bowden’s legacy at WVU and FSU, almost entirely FSU, changed the face of college football through his humanity, strong coaching and his dedication and success with FSU.
In 1949, Bowden gave up playing quarterback at Alabama to marry his childhood sweetheart Ann Estock, and the couple had six children and 21 grandchildren in their large family. Bowden’s sons Tommy, Terry and Jeff were all collegiate coaches like their father.