Florida State legendary football coach Bobby Bowden, who turns 92 in November, wife Ann and their family announced Wednesday that Bowden has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition.
“I’ve always tried to serve God’s purpose for my life, on and off the field, and I am prepared for what is to come,” Bowden said in a statement shared with the Tallahassee Democrat. “My wife Ann and our family have been life’s greatest blessing.
“I am at peace.”
The Bowden family has also asked for privacy as Bowden deals with his health.
Bowden spent 34 seasons at Florida State, compiling a 315-98-4 record during his time with the Seminoles. He led the program to 12 ACC championships and two national championships (1993, 1999) during his time at Tallahassee.
His 377 career wins are fourth all-time in college football history behind John Gagliardi (489), Joe Paterno (409) and Eddie Robinson (408). He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Bowden was hospitalized several times in 2020, once for a leg infection and later for COVID-19.
Current FSU coach Mike Norvell shared thoughts of support on social media.
“Praying for Coach Bowden and his entire family! Incredible man who is loved by so many and the Nole Family is with him,” Norvell posted on his Twitter account.
“Coach Bowden built a football dynasty and raised the national profile of Florida State University, and he did it with dignity, class and a sense of humor. Although his accomplishments on the field are unmatched, his legacy will go far beyond football,” FSU president John Thrasher said in a statement. “His faith and family have always come first, and he is an incredible role model for his players and fans alike. He is beloved by the FSU family.”
Former FSU coach Jimbo Fisher spoke about his close friendship with Bowden.
“I think he’s one of the greatest — not only greatest football coach that ever lived, but he’s also one of the greatest human beings that’s ever lived,” said Fisher, who left for Texas A&M in 2017. “People don’t realize he and I are very close. I’ve been a part of their family, I guess, as I say, since 1984 when I started playing with Terry, and I used to go to Tallahassee and stay at his house.”
Fisher began his coaching career at his alma mater, Samford under Bowden’s son, Terry in the early 1990s.
“I used to stay at his house and go watch practices,” Fisher recalled. “Sit in meetings, sit in the back and watch him organize meetings. I’d sit in the press box and put a headset on when he used to call games when I became the first offensive coordinator at Samford and listened to him call games and how he did things.”
Fisher would go on to become a part of Bobby Bowden’s coaching staff at FSU from 2007-09 before assuming the head coaching duties in 2010.
“People know I was with [Alabama] Coach [Nick] Saban a lot of years and developed a lot, but my whole background and everything I ever started with and did with and the philosophies I have offensively and a lot of different things still reside with Coach Bowden and Florida State and the things he meant to us.
“He’s one of the great human beings that’s ever coached and one of the great coaches that’s ever coached.”
Duke coach David Cutcliffe became emotional when discussing Bowden and his legacy.
“He’s one of my coaching heroes,” said Cutcliffe, who is starting his 15th season with the Blue Devils. “I know many, many, many of his players they attribute a lot of what’s right in their lives to him. I think in a time when a lot is changing in the landscape of college football, celebrate Bobby Bowden and what he brought to so many young people and young coaches.”
Cutcliffe said one of his greatest memories is sitting in that tower at FSU watching practice with Bowden.
Mississippi State coach Mike Leach offered his thoughts on Bowden.
“First of all, he’s a tremendous person, just a great person and a great example as far as a person and has a tremendous family,” Leach said during SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama. “But Coach Bowden has been an example to all of us. He’s one of those guys that made us all want to coach when we were younger, made it exciting. Coach Bowden threw the ball before most people were inclined to.
“When I was young, in high school, junior high, I used to watch his teams because they’re a team that was liable to upset teams ahead of them, and that’s as they started throwing the ball around, became more and more explosive.”
As an assistant coach at Valdosta State, Leach would take trips to visit Bowden and watch FSU’s practices.
“By the time I got to Valdosta State, they were the top of the country and had the opportunity to go down and watch them practice numerous times because they were close to Valdosta,” said Leach. “He’s just a tremendous guy, and I don’t think the game would be the same without him.”
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Sentinel writers Mike Bianchi and Edgar Thompson contributed to this report.