Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, a college football legend, shares his story on this week's installment of Fox Sports Net's critically-acclaimed documentary series BEYOND THE GLORY (Sunday, Aug. 31 at 6:00 PM with an encore at 10:30 PM, check local listings). Bowden discusses growing up and playing football in the South, his failure and success on the football field, the pressure of being a head coach and the importance of family.
Born in Birmingham Ala. in 1929, Bowden quickly developed a love for the Crimson Tide football program. He spent the greater part of his youth following the team located in his own backyard. After graduating from Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Bowden was offered a football scholarship and the opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream to play football for the Crimson Tide.
Bowden spent his freshman year at Alabama away from his high school sweetheart Julia Ann Estock. In 1949, he proposed to her, she was 16 at the time, and the two were married shortly thereafter. Alabama learned of the marriage, which was against school policy at the time, and withdrew Bowden's scholarship. He then transferred to Howard (now Samford), where he spent his sophomore through senior seasons. He excelled as a quarterback, graduated from Samford in 1953 and began his coaching career by the age of 25.
His first coaching job would be at Howard, his alma mater. He would make a stop at West Virginia before taking over a football program in disarray at Florida State in 1976. Unsure of his abilities to turn the Seminoles around, Bowden accepted the challenge and took on the football program, which school officials had previously considered canceling. He spent the next three decades building a football empire and compiling college football records along the way.
Entering his 28th season at Florida State, Bowden has compiled 259 victories with the Seminoles and has coached two national championship teams (1993 and 1999). His 332 career victories rank second among the list of all-time winningest coaches in Division 1-A, trailing only Penn State's Joe Paterno.
Bowden is a family man of strong moral character and his loyalty to Florida State is unmatched. He understands the importance of balancing faith, family and football. He is respected within the college football community for his contributions to the sport both on and off the field. At 73 years old, Bowden continues to enjoy the day-to-day activities of coaching college football. He has no plans in the near future to walk away from the sport he loves dearly.
Those interviewed in addition to Bowden include Florida State assistant coach Billy Sexton, former Florida State Athletic Director Bob Goin, former Florida State players Derrick Brooks and Charlie Ward, wife Ann, sons Tommy, Terry and Jeff and daughter Robyn Hines.
On Alabama withdrawing his football scholarship: "When I look back (at my life), that was the one thing that I gave up…I quit. All my life I've wondered, 'what would have happened, had I stayed?'"
On recruiting for Florida State in the 1970s: "When I first came to Florida State in 1976, the great players wouldn't even visit Florida State."
On his coaching style: "The one thing that I've tired to do in coaching is not let public opinion tell me what to do. I'm going to do what I think is best for us, and I'm going to try to do what's right."
On the idea of retirement: "I love to work with these kids. It's fun to watch them grow…it's fun to take their talent and try to fit (that talent) into a winning team. (That challenge) is still there burning inside of me."
On the state of football at Florida State prior to Bowden's arrival: "Florida State, prior to his arrival, gave serious consideration of dropping (its) football (program)…it was really on the rocks."
On his father's faith: "He sees something bigger in life with his Christian faith, where the relationship with God is more important than wins and losses."
On his father's success at Florida State: "A lot of people thought (his success) was a flash in the pan, but he didn't sustain tradition or history…he built it."
On Bowden's retirement: "I wish that he would leave (coaching) at a time when we would still have our health and our strength. But, if he's not happy away from coaching, then I wouldn't want him around (me)."
On the pressure of being a head coach: "Football is run on money…money comes from boosters. Boosters are not going to give you money, if you aren't winning."
On Bowden's faith: "After five decades in coaching, his message is still the same…faith, family and football."
On playing for Florida State: "We're (former FSU players) not silent about where we've come from…we brag. You do feel special…you feel a part of that fraternity."
Accomplished actor and voice-over artist D.B. Sweeney narrates Fox Sports Net's BEYOND THE GLORY series. The third season for BEYOND THE GLORY, the Sports-Emmy nominated series, features 20 original programs and is now a Fox Sports Net in-house production under the direction of executive producers Frank Sinton and Steven Michaels.
Encore presentations of BEYOND THE GLORY will air on Fox Sports Net each Sunday night through the end of the year.