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College Football Overtime: Bobby Bowden's Legacy Both On and Off the Field

Hearing the fact that the legendary former Florida State University football coach is battling a terminal medical condition was something no one wanted to hear

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When the news broke last Wednesday about Bobby Bowden, it wasn't exactly the most unexpected announcement you could think of about a 91-year-old man.

Still, hearing the fact that the legendary former Florida State University football coach is battling a terminal medical condition - later revealed to be pancreatic cancer - was something no one wanted to hear.

Not just FSU fans and alums, but no one in the entire state of Florida.

As a graduate of FSU, it has been eye opening for me to see fans and alumni of rivals Miami and Florida over the last week talk about what kind of a man and leader Bowden was both on - and off - the field.

On the field, there is a legit argument for him being the best coach in college football history. Before his arrival in 1976, the FSU football program was one that had some previous success but also had won just four total games in the previous three seasons.

By his second year in Tallahassee, the Seminoles had the first season of double digit wins in program history. By year four, it was an undefeated regular season and the first Orange Bowl berth in program history.

After 34 seasons leading the garnet and gold, Bowden had amassed 389 wins on the field to go along with two national titles and 12 ACC championships won over the first 14 seasons the Seminoles were in the league.

Along the way, there was countless one loss seasons that included more due to a missed kick against Miami than I want to remember (and other countless moments from the old Orange Bowl involving battles between the 'Noles and 'Canes.)

But one thing that all the national title winning coaches for the 'Canes had in common? All of them both won and lost games to Bowden during their time.

Off the field, Bowden was that fatherly and later grandfatherly-type person for anyone who was a student at FSU during his tenure. Being a student in the early to mid-2000s meant I didn't get to celebrate a national crown, but still got a chance to be a part of the Bowden dynasty before it ended.

More importantly, Bowden treated people the way they should. I had the privilege of covering the Seminoles my final two years as a student for a local TV station in Tallahassee - and every single interview with Bowden was gold and left you feeling better about yourself and knowing you had soundbites perfect for air.

Whether you agreed or disagreed with him on anything ranging from politics to religion to college football, Bobby Bowden was someone you could say you had the upmost respect for.

When Bowden released the statement on his condition, he was adamant that he was at peace. I truly believe that is the case. Bobby Bowden has lived the life he chose and has accepted whatever will come next.

Too often, we see people who matter in our lives pass away without us getting a chance to say what we feel about the person and let them know we appreciate them. So, this time, there is a simple message I have for the Coach:

Thank you.

Thank you for being someone who made me proud to be a FSU fan, student and alumni who watched the Seminoles dominate college football for the better part of the first 26 years of my life you coached the team.

Thank you for all the great quotes and soundbites you gave members of the media when coaches didn't seem to be afraid of a microphone.

Most of all, thank you for being just the best there ever was.


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