Best known for coaching the Florida State University Seminoles to elite status, Bowden played football at Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School and Samford, known then as Howard College, where he began his college coaching career. In all, the Birmingham native racked up 377 wins over a 44-season coaching career at Samford, West Virginia and Florida State, the second most in NCAA Division I-FBS history.
“We want to honor Coach Bowden’s exemplary character and his love for all things Samford with the naming of Bobby Bowden Field. We are proud to link our football program with his enduring legacy,” Samford University President Beck Taylor said in a news release. Bowden’s wife, Ann, and other family members are expected to attend the dedication ceremony during Samford’s home game against East Tennessee State University.
A “Bobby Bowden Field” sign has been added to the stadium in advance of the dedication ceremony, university officials said. In 2013 the school honored Bowden, who died Aug. 8 at the age of 91 after battling pancreatic cancer, with a statue of the legendary coach outside the east gate of Seibert Stadium. Alabama Power supports Samford athletics.
“What Bobby Bowden has meant to Samford University is immeasurable,” Director of Athletics Martin Newton said. “He was always one of our university’s greatest ambassadors.”
Bowden was a star on Howard College’s football squad from 1949 to 1952, earning Little All-America honors as a quarterback following his senior season, Samford officials said. He returned to his alma mater as head football coach in 1959 and stayed through the 1962 season, posting a 31-6 record. His .838 winning percentage is the highest of any head coach in the program history, Samford officials said.
He was an assistant coach at Florida State and West Virginia before being hired as West Virginia’s head coach in 1970, accumulating a 42-26 record. In 1976 he became head coach at Florida State, where he led the Seminoles to 304 victories and the 1993 and 1999 national titles. His final coaching appearance came at age 80 in the 2010 Gator Bowl, where the Seminoles beat the team from his former West Virginia program 33-21.
Bowden’s football legacy extends to three of his six children who also have coached Division 1-A football. Son Terry Bowden was head coach at Samford and Auburn University and is now head coach at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, among other coaching stints. Son Tommy Bowden was head coach at Clemson University and Tulane University, among other positions. Son Jeff Bowden was offensive coordinator at Florida State and coached at other major and mid-major schools.
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)