In 1964 I entered FSU as a freshman and was immediately caught up in the excitement of college. Specifically I was caught up in football, it dominated the campus culture. Professors talked about it and the kids were all proud to be a part of it. You see we were winning big for the first time ever. The first three games were shut outs. The fourth game was at Doak Campbell Stadium (our campus) against 5th ranked Kentucky. We held em scoreless until the fourth quarter and won by 40 points. On my birthday the hated Gators came to Doak for the first time ever. We had never beaten them and they were arrogant and boastful and soooooooooooo obnoxious. We beat them that year and I was hooked for life. I thought geez this is great, we have a winner here this is the way it will always be.

Only I was wrong. It was good for several more years then coach Bill Peterson went to the NFL to coach at Houston (and failed miserably). Our program went into a tailspin and 1972-74 we won only 4 ball games out of 30. Then this guy from West Virginia named Bowden came to town. Things changed! Again we had a winning program and his brand of football was very fun to be a part of. He had incredible success with numbers that may never again be equaled. Like 14 straight years of a top five finish 2 of them national championships. In 1999 we went wire to wire ranked number 1, never been done before or since.  That team was so good I actually bet a guy we would do it. He gave me $100 bucks in August and I agreed to give him a hundred for each game we lost. He just knew he had a sucker bet, and he did, except we didn’t loose.

Fast forward to 2004, all good things do end and the program slipped into mediocrity once more and it was time for the 80 year old Bowden to step down. Many people associated with his teams have enriched their lives considerably.  Many of them came out to send him off with their love and admiration at this years Gator Bowl..almost 85,000.

I went to his first Gator Bowl in 1964 (he was an assistant)  and his last one in 2010. They were both exciting, but this one was very special. I walked with hundreds of folks a little in a prearranged walk from the team bus to the stadium last Friday and watched all the former players and admirers pay their respects. I watched as Jimbo Fisher lowered his head in humility as he walked with Bobby past the crowd and a tear ran down his face. He is replacing a legend and he has handled the transition with style and grace and done a fine job of offensive coaching in a difficult head coach in waiting period.

The Bowl game was a love fest for Bobby young and old, male and female, Seminoles and Mountaineers (where he coached immediately before coming to FSU). Not a dry eye in the place I suspect at the end, when FSU came out with a final victory to send the old soldier packing. Coach Bowden made some mistakes in his later years, he is human after all. But there is not a finer, more decent guy around that I know of. And you can ask guys like Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks and they will say the same thing. They and many others give back to their local communities in many ways including foundations that help economically disadvantaged folks.

We love you man……….dadgummit.

Happy 2010