One of the most successful coaches in college football history, Bobby Bowden is equally known for being outspoken about his Christian faith. Throughout his career, he regularly held Bible studies for his coaching staff and promoted harmony amongst his players through church activities and community involvement. Bowden has consistently been a prominent FCA advocate, and continues to be a popular speaker at national FCA events and state fundraiser banquets. Among other notable functions, he and his wife Ann led an FCA-sponsored trip to the Holy Land in 1997.
Bowden’s illustrious coaching career was nearly derailed years before it started. He contracted rheumatic fever at the age of 13 and was confined to the hospital for six months and bedridden for another year in his home. Bowden overcame his physical issues and became a standout quarterback at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama. After playing briefly at the University of Alabama, he finished his career at Howard College (now Samford University).
Bowden made several coaching stops, including West Virginia, South Georgia College, and his alma mater, before accepting the head coach position at Florida State in 1976 where he remained until his retirement in 2009. With the exception of his first year, he never experienced a losing season in Tallahassee. Under Bowden, Florida State won two national championships (1993 and 1999) and 12 Atlantic Coast Conference titles. He finished his 44-year career with 377 victories.
Bowden received the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award in 1980, the Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award in 1991, and the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award in 1992. He also has multiple awards named after him including the FCA Bobby Bowden Athlete of the Year Award, which was instituted in 2004.