NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. —
One of his other famous musings — that he feared hanging it up because “after you retire, there’s only one big event left,” hasn’t turned out quite like that. Unlike Bear Bryant or his father, both of whom passed away shortly after they stopped working, Bowden is still going strong. Active as ever, he travels on a private plane and gives up to five inspirational speeches a week at spots across the country.
He is in high demand.
He doesn’t miss coaching all that much.
“I know that might surprise some people,” he said.
He wishes he could have left Florida State on his terms, not the school’s. It was an awkward exit — one Bowden wanted to make a year later than he did, and one that came after a string of seasons that didn’t live up to the expectations he built. From 2001-09, his teams went 74-42 — not good enough for a program that played for the title in five of the previous eight seasons.
“I wanted to go out dadgum big-time,” Bowden said. “We kind of built our own monster there. And then we weren’t winning enough ballgames to get the job done. I’m not bitter about any of it. It was fun.”
The man who coaches Florida State now, Jimbo Fisher, played quarterback for Bobby’s son, Terry, and coached for both Terry and Bobby. Fisher was so close with the Bowdens for years that he was sometimes mistaken as one of the family.
“Bobby built Florida State,” Fisher said with no hesitation. “Florida State had won no games. Bobby came in. Bobby built the brand name of Florida State, and to me, Florida State is one of the best brands there is in the country.”
Gene Deckerhoff, who has been calling Seminoles games on the radio since the 1970s, said there’s no overstating what Bowden meant, and still means, to this program.