Photo provided by Garnet and Great/Florida State football archivist
Sad news came over the Florida State football community early Sunday as legendary head coach Bobby Bowden died at the age of 91 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Bowden spent 34 years as head coach of the Seminoles. During that time, FSU won 377 games, 12 ACC titles and two national championships.
As is the case for many Florida State alumni and fans, Bowden was a hero. He was a role model and not just for his accomplishments on the field, but his impact off it.
Unfortunately, this author never had the opportunity to interview the legend. Fortunately, he did get to interview more than 50 former Florida State athletes — many football players — who played under the legend.
Below are compilations of quotes regarding the legend from interviews over the years. Part IV will wrap up the series:
Richie Andrews, K (1987-90)
As part of the “Catching Up” series for Noled Out, former kicker Richie Andrews reflected on his FSU career as well as his business ventures. He said he appreciated his FSU experience more as he got older.
“I just spent some time with Coach Bowden at Palm Beach County boosters,” Andrews said. “It was kind of a honor to sit there at the table with him, William Floyd, Mark Macek and a few other players. We had such a great family with coaches, staff, players, fans. Sometimes in today’s era, you don’t really get the opportunity to develop that type of relationship. It was a great family environment and a great opportunity and I was real fortunate to get to play when I did.”
Andrews said in the 25 years since he last played for Florida State, he’s had the opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the teams he played on and has grown to more appreciate the life lessons he received from his coaches.
“I became more proud of it later in life than I did when I was there. It was an era that really set the stage for where we’re at now. Being young, you don’t kind of realize it with the coaching and the life tips you’re given,” Andrews said. “You get older and have families and start businesses and you move forward in life based on what was instilled in you. Coach Bowden and his staff, they really made an impact on people’s lives.”
P.K. Sam, WR (2001-03)
Among former players, perhaps no one has been more critical of Bowden than P.K. Sam. Sam didn’t have the relationship that many other players did with his coaches, but always respected what Bowden accomplished as a coach. In a December 2018 piece for The Daily Nole, Sam gave his thoughts.
When it comes to Bowden, Sam said the two have crossed paths many times since his playing days in Tallahassee have come to an end. The two, according to the former receiver, have always been cordial to one another. Sam said the relationship between the two has always been more of a work relationship than a family one.
“I’ll always respect what he did for the dynasty,” Sam said. “I’m just not going to seek him out. I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity. I love FSU and I’m still grateful for the chance he gave me.”
Atrews Bell, WR (1998-2001)
A walk-on wide receiver turned starter from Jacksonville, Atrews Bell was a member of three Florida State teams that played in national championship games. In a 20-year anniversary piece for The Daily Nole, Bell recalled what it meant to be part of the 1999 team that delivered Bowden his only perfect season at FSU.
“There was a lot of relief,” Bell said. “It was joy, relief and everything in between. We wanted to do it for Coach Bowden.”
“Looking back, it means everything,” Bell said. “The further we are away from it, the more appreciative I get of what we accomplished. When (members of the 1999 team) get together, we still laugh and tell the same stories we told at Burt Reynolds Hall. Every year when football season comes around, I think about that team and we get those feelings all over again.”