Photo courtesy of 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. This is Part III of a multi-part series:
Clifton Abraham, CB (1990-94)
In a 12-part series for The Daily Nole in 2018, commemorating the 25-year anniversary of Florida State’s first national championship, All-American cornerback Clifton Abraham recalled the accomplishment.
“There was this thing about the Heisman Trophy winner not winning the bowl game,” Abraham said. “There was always this thing about Coach Bowden not winning a national championship. There’s just something special about being the first.”
Earlier in the series, Abraham mentioned the impact the coaches had on the 1993 title team.
“Great players get a lot of credit, but coaches deserve credit too,” said Clifton Abraham, a redshirt junior cornerback on the team. “Coach Bowden, Coach (Mickey) Andrews, Coach (Chuck) Amato — we had the best coaches. We were never out of position. We knew what we were supposed to do. We were never unprepared and we dictated the game.”
Derrick Brooks, LB (1991-94)
All-American linebacker and eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer, Derrick Brooks, also weighed in on what it meant to be part of the team that won Bowden his first national championship.
“There’s something to being the first and setting that standard,” Brooks said. “It’s excellent to have been part of the group that got Coach Bowden his first championship. Everything since then has been built on that foundation.”
Tommy Polley, LB (1996-2000)
In one of the more humorous pieces, The Daily Nole spoke to former college teammates of 2-time Lou Groza Award winner, Sebastian Janikowski. Linebacker Tommy Polley, a 2-time first-team All-ACC performer, recalled something that Bowden said about the All-American kicker. The piece published in May 2019 following the kicker’s retirement from the NFL.
Polley remembered a practice where Janikowski refused to kick — possibly after a late night — to the chagrin of then linebackers coach Chuck Amato.
“For the whole practice, he refused to kick,” Polley said. “We all had one set of rules. Coach (Bobby) Bowden used to say (Janikowski) was on international rules.”