Photo courtesy of Florida State athletics
As the Florida State community morns the loss of legendary head football coach Bobby Bowden, it’s no secret that I am among the mourners.
Although I take pride in my objectivity as the editor of Fifth Quarter and my roles with other publications, those who know me however, know that I bleed garnet and gold. I started watching Florida State football when I was seven years old in 1992. I graduated from Florida State University in 2009.
I literally remember the events of my life around the corresponding sporting events. While I’ve never been out in the field on a daily basis as an FSU reporter, I have managed FSU sports websites, including The Daily Nole and Noled Out. In 2013, I had the opportunity to cover FSU from the press box on its way to a national championship.
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to interview more than 50 current and former Florida State athletes. The majority of those were football players.
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As the news broke Sunday morning that the legendary Bowden had died the age of 91, many reflected on the legend’s life and career. Like many who have followed FSU athletics for any length of time, I considered Bowden my hero. Under Bowden, FSU accomplished a great and many things on the field. Although I never knew him personally, Bowden was also the type of man that many would model their life after.
I never had the opportunity to meet Bowden and witnessed him speak in person just once — at an on-campus event in 2006. During the event, Bowden told a joke that I still tell to this day. He joked that his wife, more affectionately known as Mrs. Ann, did all the driving. He just “held the wheel and pushed the pedals”.
Although I did not know the legend, he meant a lot to me. In fact, he meant a lot to many people, who didn’t know him personally.
As a journalist who had the opportunity to talk to many whose lives Bowden had impacted, I decided to start compiling old quotes regarding the legend from the former players that I interviewed over the years. You can find Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV here.
Obviously, I was saddened by the passing of the legendary Bowden. I was also sad that I never had the opportunity to interview and then I was reminded that — in a way — I did.
This for you Bobby! pic.twitter.com/wyKlc4v0cB
— PJ (@SeminolePeej) August 10, 2021
Peanuts and Soda
I never covered a game during Bowden’s tenure. I never got to speak to him in person or by phone.
But in August 2014, Reddit hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Bowden. Weeks prior to the AMA, I was talking to someone who told me they once met Bowden outside out a Tallahassee gas station and he was drinking an R.C. Cola with peanuts floating on top.
I had one opportunity ever to ask the legend a question. That’s what I asked about. On a thread that had more than 500 comments, Bowden answered.
“Well you know, I always did that,” he replied. “I’d get an orange drink and put peanuts in it, or any cold drink. I think Jimbo (Fisher) does that too. It’s an old country habit. That’s just like lunch to me, boy.”
Nearly seven years later, it made my day yet again.
Thank you, Coach Bowden.