TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida State University confirmed that legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowden passed away at 5:08 a.m. Sunday, August 8, 2021, "at home surrounded by his wife and six children."
Early football career
Robert Cleckler Bowden was born on November 8, 1929, in Birmingham, Alabama. He went on to fulfill his dream to play for the Crimson Tide, where he played quarterback his freshman year.
After leaving the University of Alabama to marry his high school sweetheart, Anne Estock, he transferred to Howard College, now known as Samford University, where he played football, baseball, and ran track.
Once he graduated, Bowden served as an assistant coach at Howard for two years before becoming the athletic director and head coach of football, baseball, and basketball at South Georgia College.
Bowden left South Georgia College in 1962 and spent a brief two year stint at Florida State University (1963–65) as the wide receivers coach followed by a three year period at West Virginia University (1966–69) as the offensive coordinator.
Leaving with a 42–26 record from West Virginia, he took up the head coaching position at FSU in 1976.
Florida State University
When Bowden arrived in Tallahassee, the Seminoles had a 4–29 record over the previous three seasons and the soon-to-be legend only planned on staying until a better job came around.
According to Britannica, he started off his tenure at Florida State with a 5–6 record -- the only losing record he posted as the team’s head coach.
In 1982, the Seminoles got their first invite to the Gator Bowl and in 1993, the team clinched it's first national championship win and claimed the Associated Press and Coaches Poll National Title.
Bowden repeated the feat in 1999 with an undefeated team to clinch a BCS National Championship and, by then, the Seminoles had become the first college football team in history to be named number one in the Associated Press College Football Poll in every week of the preseason and postseason.
From 1987 to 2000, the Seminoles finished every season with at least 10 wins and won 12 Atlantic Coast Conference championships since FSU joined the conference in 1991.
Bowden himself was also named National Coach of the Year six times and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
After a difficult 2009 season and amid questioning fans, Bowden stepped down, just weeks after his 80th birthday. A few weeks after his retirement, FSU was forced to vacate 12 football victories from the 2006 and 2007 seasons after the program was found guilty of academic fraud.
He was allowed to make his final coaching appearance in the 2010 Gator Bowl game on January 1, 2010, with a 33–21 victory over his former program, West Virginia.
Bowden finished his non-junior-college coaching career with 377 wins.
After the Seminoles
After his retirement, Bowden stayed in the Capital City. Throughout that time, Bowden spent much of his life either on the golf course, making appearances throughout the country or with his wife Anne.
Bowden always stayed connected with the Seminoles, often making appearances at games.
In July 2021, Bowden's son Terry announced that his father had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.
An outpouring of love, support and words of admiration followed this announcement from across the nation.
"I don't know if there's anybody who's ever done it with more grace, dignity or class on the sideline in college football in the history of this game and had the success he had winning and doing the things he does," said Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher at SEC media days earlier this month. "The impact he had on his coaches and the impact he had on his players and everybody who came in contact with him. He's as fine a man as there ever was and he means the world to me and it's a very sad day for me."
Fisher took over the Seminole program when Bowden retired in 2009, and says his career is where it is because of the Bowden family.
Bowden is survived by his wife Anne, their six children and 21 grandchildren.