Meet Bobby Bowden once and you felt like his friend. He was so warm, so accessible, so caring.
He was also one of the best football coaches to ever step on the sidelines.
Numbers, even those as remarkable as Bowden’s, don’t define people. But here are a few that reflect its place in the sports pantheon.
Prior to Bowden, the state of Florida had never finished in the Associated Press top 10. During Bowden’s tenure from 1976 to 2009, the Seminoles entered 16 seasons in the top 10, including an unprecedented 14 in the top five in a row from 1987 to 2000.
Prior to Bowden, the only FSU Division I playoff win was the 1965 Gator Bowl. Bowden coached the Seminoles to 21 bowl wins, including a record 11 in a row.
Florida State had a combined 4-29 in the three years leading up to Bowden’s arrival from West Virginia. During their dynasty of 14 seasons, the Seminoles were 152-19 years old and won two national championships.
Five years after the start of that run, Florida State joined the ACC, infusing a basketball conference with a booming football brand. The Seminoles won or shared the league title in each of their first nine seasons and did not lose any ACC games until 1995 at Virginia.
Throughout it all, Bowden has remained genuine, happily signing autographs, posing for photos, and engaging everything in his path. He would hold court at CCA media gatherings, feasting us on homemade anecdotes, ideas and more than the occasional “dadgum”.