Sam Burnham, Curator
I’ll never forget the time I met Bobby Bowden. He and his son Terry were doing a book signing at a bookstore in Birmingham. Bobby was the head coach at Florida State. Terry was the head coach at Auburn. I dropped all shame and asked him for a job on his support staff. He looked at me and asked me if I was still in college. I told him I was and he “I want you to call me when you graduate.”
But this isn’t the story of things I wish I had done.
I got a lump in my throat last month when the Bowden family announced that the coach had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I was further saddened this morning to awake to the announcement that Coach Bowden had passed.
All through middle and high school I followed the Seminoles. I was rabid with it. I thought myself a Florida State fan but finally came to realize I was, in fact, a Bobby Bowden fan. And when he left the office for the last time, my loyalty followed him out the door.
I was enthralled by his game planning, the players he recruited, the plays he designed and called. His system built a championship caliber program out of a minor league team. I was impressed by the way he motivated his players without giving himself an aneurysm losing his temper. He maintained control of his emotions, put his plan to work, made adjustments as necessary and became the second winningest coach in Division I history.
Florida State tweeted this morning “Today we lost a legend but you never lose a legacy.” That could not be more true. He has left a multigenerational coaching tree that will shape the sport for years to come. He shaped the lives of players and staff members who will impact lives off the field. His legacy lives on and the world is richer for it.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire