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A former Florida State assistant coach under Bobby Bowden, Gene McDowell was hired amid a blazing budget deficit and a program in shambles. He rebuilt from the ground up and still stands as the school's winningest coach. Although noted for his mind games among his players, assistant coaches and opponents, McDowell turned the Knights into a consistent playoff team in Division II, a consistent playoff team in Division I-AA and, eventually, into treasured Division I-A status. McDowell made his living recruiting players from Florida and South Georgia, and eventually the Knights were a team that some of the South's top programs declined to play for fear of getting upset. In the end, a lie brought him down. McDowell lied to a grand jury about what he knew regarding a cell phone scandal that embroiled several of his players and former players. That act led UCF to dismiss him before the 1998 season. McDowell was 86-61 in 13 seasons at UCF.
January 20, 1997