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Bobby Bowden Built Dynasty at Florida State

Longtime coach ranks second in major college football victories
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 8, 2021 12:55 PM CDT
Bobby Bowden Built Dynasty at Florida State
Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden attends a luncheon in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2018.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

(Newser) – Bobby Bowden, the folksy Hall of Fame coach who built Florida State into an unprecedented college football dynasty, has died. He was 91. His son, Terry, said his father died Sunday at home in Tallahassee, surrounded by family, the AP reports. Bobby Bowden announced last month that he had a terminal illness, which his son said was pancreatic cancer. "I've always tried to serve God's purpose for my life, on and off the field, and I am prepared for what is to come," Bowden said at the time. "My wife, Ann, and our family have been life's greatest blessing. I am at peace." The coach was beloved by Seminoles fans and respected by peers. He was one of the most accessible stars in college football; his home number was listed in the Tallahassee phone book for years. With charm and wit, Bowden piled up 377 wins in 40 years as a major college coach, at tiny Samford, West Virginia and Florida State, where he went 315-98-4. In his 34 seasons, the Seminoles won 12 Atlantic Coast Conference championships and two national titles.

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"Florida State University has lost a legend," university President John Thrasher said in a statement, adding, "Coach Bowden built a football dynasty and raised the national profile of Florida State University, and he did it with class and a sense of humor." Bowden retired after the 2009 season with a Gator Bowl win in Florida State's 28th straight postseason appearance, a victory that gave him his 33rd consecutive winning season. A month after he resigned, the NCAA stripped Florida State of victories in 10 sports because of an academic cheating scandal in 2006 and '07. Still, only Penn State's Joe Paterno is credited with winning more games (409) as a major college football coach. "He’s one of the great human beings that's ever coached and one of the great coaches that’s ever coached," said his successor, Jimbo Fisher. Athletic director David Coburn said, "He is a part of the heart and soul of FSU, but it goes beyond even that—he is a big part of the history of the game."

(Read more obituary stories.)

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