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Bowden: How Bobby Bowden Forged a Football Dynasty
He is a giant among coaches, a Hall of Famer with a legacy that spans six full decades of coaching, and arguably the greatest Division I college football coach in history. And now Bobby Bowden finally has a biography that befits his stature: Bowden by award-winning journalist and author Mike Freeman. Based on six years of research and interviews with...
He is a giant among coaches, a Hall of Famer with a legacy that spans six full decades of coaching, and arguably the greatest Division I college football coach in history. And now Bobby Bowden finally has a biography that befits his stature: Bowden by award-winning journalist and author Mike Freeman. Based on six years of research and interviews with Bowden himself, not to mention the Bowden family, former players, and opposing coaches, Bowden is the complete stunning story of the making of a legend. Despite growing up in the segregated South and witnessing the ugly racism of the time, Bowden still developed into one of the most race-sensitive coaches in college history. When sick as a child, he listened to the radio and gained a taste for war strategy and for Alabama football games on Saturdays. He played football in high school but decided he wanted to be a coach. After years of turning around smaller football programs, and following a tumultuous but successful head coaching tenure at West Virginia University, Bowden accepted the post at Florida State University (FSU), a failing program that was regularly beaten by in-state rival University of Florida. In fact, just the year before Bowden became coach, in 1975, the president of FSU contemplated terminating the program altogether, particularly because the team had won only four games in the past three years. What Bowden accomplished at FSU is nothing short of miraculous: twenty-one bowl wins and two national championships. And he was the only coach to secure a top-five ranking in the Associated Press polls for fourteen straight seasons. A brilliant tactician, he helped usher the pro passing game into college football, after initially doubting it could work on the college level. He has been an unrivaled recruiter, not only coaching his players but also becoming a surrogate father to many of them, all while producing thirty-one consensus All-Americans over the course of his tenure. He spawned one of the greatest rivalries in sports against the University of Miami. He trails only Penn State's Joe Paterno in career victories. Along the way he has had to deal with family tragedies, scandals, and the rise and fall of his three sons' coaching careers. But he has been steadfast, with his good humor intact and with Ann, his wife of sixty years, at his side, raising a family of six children and now twenty-one grandchildren. As he nears the end of his career, though, the critics have their knives out, claiming, among many other things, that he has become a dinosaur who clings to his job so that he can win more games than Paterno. This work examines the total Bowden and is the first of its kind on a one-of-a-kind coach. Poignant, blunt, and eye-opening, Bowden is a towering biography of a man who has left his mark on FSU and the game of college football.
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