One of the most iconic names in Florida sports history was remembered Saturday at an event on the campus where he spent over three decades leading the football team to glory.
Former Florida State Seminoles football coach Bobby Bowden was honored at a ceremony inside the Tucker Center, where thousands of fans and former players are expected to attend.
Speakers include former FSU football greats Derrick Brooks, Charlie Ward and Warrick Dunn along with former Miami head coach Mark Richt - who was an assistant for 15 seasons under Bowden at FSU.
“Coach Bowden saw something in me that no one else saw,” said Dunn, who played at Florida State from 1993-96. “He believed in me and that’s a powerful thing for an 18-year-old that is just trying to figure out life. Coach was the kind of man that used his faith and wisdom to shape boys into men.”
It was another one-on-one meeting in Bowden’s office that shaped Brooks’ life. It wasn’t because of how he was performing on the field as a freshman but instead in the classroom. Brooks got a C in a biology class after never receiving a C in high school. Bowden circled the transcript and challenged him.
“Little did I know coach Bowden had my mom on speakerphone,” Brooks recalled to laughter from the crowd. His mom chewed him out on the phone and threatened to come to Tallahassee. Bowden insisted he had it covered.
Friday, his widow Ann and their six children were joined by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his wife at the Capitol building, where Bowden laid in state at the Rotunda before laying in honor inside the Moore Athletic Center on the FSU campus.
Bowden died last Sunday at his home in Tallahassee, where he remained after retiring following the 2009 season - his 34th campaign leading the garnet and gold.
On July 21st, Bowden announced he has been diagnosed with a "terminal medical condition." One of Bowden's sons, Terry, revealed the next day his father had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Arriving in Tallahassee in 1976 after the Seminoles won just four games combined over the previous three seasons, Bowden quickly made FSU football a household name and became one of the top coaches in college football history.
During a 14-season run from 1987 to 2000, where the ‘Noles never finish ranked lower than fifth nationally. Over that span, FSU won two national championships along with 11 bowl games (including three Orange Bowls) and nine straight ACC titles.
Bowden's body will lie in repose on the campus of Samford University, his alma mater, on Sunday before a private burial in Trussville, Alabama.