Bobby Bowden Biography

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is one of the most successful college football coaches in history. His teams were ranked in the top five in the nation every year from 1987 to 2000, winning national titles in 1993 and 1999.

Bobby Bowden, born in 1929, American college football coach, whose success at Florida State University (FSU) ranks among the greatest achievements in the history of the sport. Bowden ended the 2004 season with the most coaching victories (351) in Division I college football, just ahead of Penn State coach Joe Paterno (343). Bowden’s teams typically feature great athleticism, an explosive offensive attack, and solid defense.

Robert Cleckler Bowden was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and lived his early years in a house across the street from a high school football field. In his early teens he was seriously ill with rheumatic fever, but he recovered and went on to become a star quarterback for that same high school. He played one year of football at the University of Alabama before returning home to Birmingham to get married and play for Howard College (now Samford University). Bowden earned small-college All-American recognition as a quarterback for Howard during his playing days.

After spending time as an assistant coach at Howard and a stint coaching at a junior college, Bowden took the head coaching job at Howard in 1959. In four years he coached the school to a record of 31-6 before moving on to assistant coaching jobs at Florida State and then West Virginia University. When the head coach at West Virginia left before the 1970 season, Bowden replaced him. In six years as the team’s head coach, Bowden guided the Mountaineers to a 42-26 record and two bowl game appearances.

In 1976 Bowden took the head coaching job at Florida State. When he arrived, the program was in disarray—the Seminoles had won just four games in the previous three years. But after a 5-6 record in his first year, Bowden never had another losing season at the school. The team went 10-2 in his second year and earned a postseason bowl berth. Since 1982 Bowden has led the Seminoles to a bowl game every year, including a record 11 straight bowl wins (1985-1995). Bowden’s 19 bowl victories are second only to Paterno (20) in college football history.

A paragon of consistency, Florida State finished every season from 1987 to 2000 ranked in the nation’s top five teams. The Seminoles have twice been voted college football’s national champion, for the 1993 and 1999 seasons. The 1999 squad finished 12-0, Bowden’s first undefeated and untied team.

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