Former coaches, players among hundreds to pay respects to ‘father figure’ Bobby Bowden at Florida Capitol

Bobby Bowden, the former Florida State University football coach who brought the Seminoles to national prominence, died on Tuesday at age 82. Bowden’s family announced that he passed away at 8:30 a.m. at his home in Tallahassee. He is survived by his wife, Charlotte, and their two daughters, Stephanie and Mary. He was born on April 10, 1925, in Colquitt, Ga. — where he was a star athlete, football and basketball — and played football at Georgia Tech before he joined the U.S. Army during World War II.

The name of Bobby Bowden is virtually synonymous with success in college football, and his legacy will be celebrated today at the Florida state capitol. The state legislature voted 52-21 on Tuesday to authorize a statue of the famed head coach at Florida State University, and the administration has budgeted $250,000 to erect the monument in the rotunda. Bowden, who coached the Seminoles from 1966 to 2008, is the winningest active FBS coach with 489 career wins.

The Florida State University’s athletic association (FSUAA) will hold a public memorial service for Bobby Bowden, Florida’s winningest football coach, at noon on Tuesday at the Florida Capitol. Several former FSU players and college coaches, including former head coach Bobby Bowden, will speak at the memorial service in remembrance of the legendary football coach who passed away at the age of 88 on April 15.. Read more about bowden bowl and let us know what you think.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – Chuck Amato, a long-time Florida State assistant, traveled all night from Raleigh to get there in time to pay his respects to football coach Bobby Bowden on Friday. Simply put, he felt compelled to be there to say his last goodbyes.

“I owe it to him,” Amato said, tears welling up in his eyes as he recalled the guy he mentored for 21 years. “I learned all I know about being a head football coach from him. To express everything he’s done for the institution and the state of Florida, I’d need ten pages.”

Hundreds of mourners came up to pay their respects to Bowden, who died of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 8 at the age of 91. On Friday morning, a memorial service for Bowden was held inside the state Capitol, where he was laid to rest.

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Bowden then laid in rest within the Florida State football facility’s foyer later that afternoon. When the Bowden family came in front of the permanent monument to Bobby Bowden — a statue built when the coach stepped down in 2009 after 34 seasons as head coach — university president John Thrasher and sports director David Coburn welcomed them.

The base of the monument was surrounded with flower bouquets, many of which were in the school colors of garnet and gold. Fans, former players, and former coaches formed a queue around the entryway, hoping for one more moment with Bowden.

Jennifer and John Christie, longtime Seminoles fans, were first in line at 9:45 a.m. Ronnie Cottrell, who served as Bowden’s recruiting coordinator for ten years during the Seminoles’ dynastic run, stood just behind them.

“Coach was such a father figure,” said Cottrell, who is now a high school coach in Mobile, Alabama. “In the last week, I’ve had hundreds of calls from players. He meant so much to so many people. There are pastors that probably wish they had the influence he had, but there are fathers, too. He was more than a coach. He was so much more.”

A group of guys who played for Bowden at West Virginia in the late 1960s stood a few places behind him. Mickey Plumley, who was an offensive lineman for the Peach Bowl-winning squad in 1969, remembered the team’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2019. Bowden was present. Bowden not only recalled all of the other 37 players’ names, but he also remembered their hometowns.

“I lost my parents when I was in high school, and Coach Bowden became my surrogate father and took me under his wing, as he did hundreds and thousands of other young men,” Plumley said, holding back tears. “I simply thank God that he was a part of my life every day.”

Others took photos in front of the Bowden monument as fans waited in line. Emory Parker made a point of taking a picture with his little son. Close family friends Wayne McGahee and Tyler Wade were also there. McGahee began attending games in 1969, when Florida State’s football team was floundering. In 1976, he was there for Bowden’s first game as the head coach at Florida State, a game versus Kansas.

“Before he came here, I sat in the grandstand when we were 0-11,” McGahee said. “I’ve gone to hell and back. There’s no knowing where we’d be if Bobby wasn’t here. There wouldn’t be any flags hung up. That is a proven truth.”

Bowden was Wade’s little son’s name.

“I would have done my duty as a parent if my kid could influence a tenth of the individuals that Bobby Bowden touched,” Wade added.

Former players Deion Sanders, Warrick Dunn, and Charlie Ward, as well as family members and others, are scheduled to speak during a formal ceremony on Saturday morning. Bowden was laid to rest in the foyer of the football stadium on Friday, surrounded by his two national championship trophies and a huge bouquet of red roses put on the coffin. His wife, Ann, and his children, including coaches Tommy, Jeff, and Terry, welcomed everyone who came in to pay their respects when he arrived.

Former Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke, who won the Heisman Trophy and the national title in 1999, stated, “It was a heck of a lot harder coming in there, seeing him laying there than I ever imagined it was going to be.” “It should be a celebration of what this man achieved in 91 years and the people he impacted in such a good way,” says the author.

“He did build a dynasty, as they say. When you consider when he initially arrived and what the program looked like, you can see how successful he was, with 14 years in the top four. Maybe (there will be) a few more national championships with a few maybe-not-wide-rights. So simply the effect he had on so many people’s lives, as well as for this institution and what he represents. Obviously, the statue there is something unique, and it belongs exactly where it is.”

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