Bobby Bowden has won more games than any other coach in Division 1A history. His most successful season yet is his 28th season, when the Seminoles went to the Orange Bowl.
Florida State is the only school to finish among the (Associated Press) Top Five for 14 consecutive seasons. The Seminoles finished first twice (1993, 1999), second twice (1987, 92), third, four times (1988, 89, 97, 99), fourth, five times (1990, 91, 94, 95, 96) and fifth in 2000. No team in college football history can match the run.
Over the first 12 years of playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Florida State compiled a record of 90-6, claimed 11 ACC championships, and set the league record for consecutive victories. Bowden picked up ACC Coach of the Year titles in 1993 and 1997. Part of the reason for Bowden's success in his long run at FSU is that the elements of the job that seem to turn into chores over the years for most coaches, recruiting, speaking engagements, public functions, press responsibilities, come easily for Bowden.
"I feel great physically," said Bowden. "I've always been a people person. I enjoy getting to know people, so the recruiting is still a lot of fun for me. I like going into a player's home and meeting his parents and family. I don't have any desire to slow down on all the elements outside of the actual game that some people find hard. I understand why it grinds away at some people, but it just doesn't on me. I guess I've always been able to put football in its place."
He has developed the most consistently successful program in the history of college football. FSU won more games in the decade of the 1990s than any other program. The win over Wake Forest on October 25th of last season allowed him to pass Joe Paterno to become the all-time winningest coach.
"To be honest, it doesn't really feel like I should be there," said Bowden of the feat. "It's not something that I sat down 40 years ago and said `you know if I coached long enough and was successful maybe I could get there." That type of thought never entered my mind. I don't really think about it. Maybe when I'm done I'll look back on everything."
While Bowden has not spent much time looking back, most of the nation has spent time looking in at his program's extraordinary success. Just imagine a college basketball program advancing to the Final Four for 14 years in a row. Even more startling is the thought of playing in the national title game five times in eight seasons. FSU set an NCAA record with 14 straight Top Five finishes and the 2001 Orange Bowl was the Tribe's third straight national title game and fifth in eight years.
In the fickle world of "big-time" college sports some forget what it is all about. Sure, Bobby Bowden is proud of his two national championships, his place among the all-time greats, and a football program that is the model for the entire country. But he has always pointed to the fact that there are more important things in life. He makes time for charity and to give to his church. He has never walked past an admiring child without a wink and a smile. He greets total strangers. He listens and he cares.
Rising above Bowden's coaching accomplishments, though, are his credentials as a man. Friendly and outgoing, he is a deeply religious man who believes strongly in the strength of the family. He loves people. His personality and charm are bigger than life and he has become somewhat of a folk hero. An engaging speaker, Bowden is constantly in demand and most free evenings will find him on the speaking circuit. His off-season travel schedule would exhaust anyone. Sunday morning will usually find him in the pulpit of a church somewhere in the south. Outside of football, Bowden has an intense interest in World War II history and he is a voracious reader on the subject. He traced his ancestry to parts of Germany
and has visited the country several times.