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Just my take: Bowden’s legacy shines brightly

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On Sunday, college football fans across the nation received the news that the sport lost one of its great icons as former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden passed away at 91.

Known for his fun-loving, folksy demeanor in his interviews and his staunch love of God and his family, Bowden took over the helm of the Seminoles in 1976 and built Florida State into one of college football’s most respected and successful programs, along the way becoming the second winningest coach in Division-I history behind friend and fellow legend, Joe Paterno.

Bowden was also one of ours’. Born in Birmingham, he was a standout at Woodlawn High School and spent many of his younger years listening to University of Alabama Football broadcasts. He fulfilled a lifelong dream in his freshman year when he played for the Crimson Tide as quarterback, but later transferred and played the rest of his collegiate career at Howard University, better known today as Samford. Samford would ultimately have an everlasting tie to the Bowden family, as Bobby’s first head coaching role would be with the Bulldogs and his son Terry would serve as head coach at Samford in the early 90’s before his stint at Auburn.

Bowden’s ties to his home state continued to play a role in his life long after leaving Samford. He took the job at Florida State after his tenure as head coach at West Virginia not only for the warmer climate in Tallahassee, but also because his mother and mother-in-law still lived in Birmingham and it would be a much shorter trip to visit them. On March 21, 2010, the Over the Mountain Touchdown Club of Birmingham, Alabama presented the first annual Bobby Bowden National Collegiate Coach of the Year Award, named in honor of Bowden and the contributions that he made during his career. The award recognizes a coach each year with unmatched success on and off of the field in the same attributes that Bowden showed throughout his career — perseverance, attitude, integrity, and determination. Alabama head coach Nick Saban was the first recipient of the award, and it was presented by Bowden himself.

Coach Bowden’s passing is one that affects me personally, as I always admired not only his coaching ability, but the way he carried himself as well. Back home in Florida, and long before the ability to see any college football game going on in the world in real time, when Alabama and Auburn weren’t on television my grandparents and I would opt to watch FSU games, as both of my grandparents always enjoyed watching “a boy from Alabama do good.” His values and love of family extended to his team, as they were considered an extended part of his beloved family — traits many successful head coaches emulate today.

Thank you for all the fond memories coach, and for everything you stood for. The world world will not be the same without your shining spirit.