Bobby Bowden celebrates new book, new life

Bobby Bowden always had a sure-fire line whenever somebody asked when he would retire from coaching:

“After you retire there is only one big event left. And I ain’t ready for that.”

The line always got a big laugh. But underneath Bowden’s dadgummit humor was a note of seriousness that he rarely discussed in public. Bear Bryant, who Bowden so admired, coached his last football game  on Dec. 29, 1982.  Just 28 days later Bryant was dead.

“Of course you think about it,” Bowden once told me in the privacy of his office at Florida State. “How can you NOT think about it.”

But Bobby Bowden, who turns 81 on Nov. 8, wants you to know that he is doing just fine despite the fact that for the first time in 57 years he will not be coaching football in 2010. That doesn’t mean he isn’t busy. He’s already been to Israel for 10 days. He has two speaking engagements lined up in Hawaii. He’ll be going on a long Carribean Cruise “and all I have to do is speak for about 45 minutes and I’m good.”

And the most important thing Bowden wants you to know that his greatest fear about leaving coaching–even surpassing the fears of his own mortality–has not come true.

“I thought that once I quit coaching nobody would be interested in what I had to say,” said Bowden when we talked by phone on Saturday. “As it turns out, they still want to listen.”

Bowden’s schedule is about to get even more hectic. For today his new book “Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith, and Football” hits the bookshelves around the country. Bowden will do a media blitz in New York on Tuesday to launch the book which was written with ESPN.com’s (and former AJC staffer) Mark Schlabach. Then it’s on to ESPN in Bristol, Conn.,  for a full day of interviews across their family of networks on Thursday.

The book, which includes forewords by Tony Dungy and Joe Paterno, offers keen insights into Bowden’s career and what made him so successful. Among the things Bowden did for the book was give Schlabach access to a folder that included more than 30 years of pre-game speeches.

“Mark dug in there and found a lot of things that still mean a lot to me,” said Bowden. “He did a heckuva job on the book and we’re very proud of it.”

One thing Bowden does not do in the book is vent against those who ultimately forced him out at Florida State. But he does explain his side of the story.  Yes, Bowden was told that he was going to get one more year at Florida State. He had been told that he would be allowed to determine his exit strategy. That did not happen. FSU President T.K. Wetherell, who played for Bowden, pushed the coach out the door before he was ready. Bowden is not bitter but he still believes that he had earned the right to leave on his own terms. An academic cheating scandal, after which the NCAA vacated 14 of Bowden’s victories, was the most disappointing blow of all, he said.

“I wasn’t ready to go out. I wanted to keep the battle going with Joe Paterno (for most career wins),” Bowden said. “But once the NCAA took those (14) wins away, it was over. But I’m not looking back. I don’t coach football any more but I haven’t retired. I want to stay busy.”

That won’t be a problem. The requests for Bowden to speak reach well into next year. On Sept. 3 he will do a book signing in Tallahassee. Then he’ll retreat to his second home in Panama City to spend the first weekend of the season. You probably won’t see him at Doak Campbell Stadium this season as Jimbo Fisher takes over as head coach after two seasons as the “coach in waiting.”

“I always said that once I got through coaching I was leaving,” said Bowden. “That wouldn’t be fair to the boys and it wouldn’t be fair to Jimbo. They don’t need to see old Bobby sitting over there.”

Alabama athletics director Mal Moore has invited Bowden to Tuscaloosa for the Sept. 11 game with Penn State.  As a boy growing up in Birmingham, there are a lot of good memories at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It would also be kind of fun to watch his old friend Joe Paterno walking up and down the sideline, he said.

“When I was a kid my dad used to take me to Tuscaloosa to watch the games,” Bowden said. “I think the last time I was there just watching as a fan was 1948 when I was a senior in high school and they were recruiting me. I always wanted to go back. And now I can.”

Please follow me on Twitter:

www.Twitter.com/MrCFB

160 comments Add your comment

Simple Simon

August 24th, 2010
10:44 am

The rivalry was between Bowden & Paterno, had nothing to do with Saban, have no idea why folks are posting about Nick Saban, who never coached with Bowden like Richt did for so many years.

Jake

August 24th, 2010
10:46 am

Bobby put FSU on the College Football Map. Before his arrival, most in the College Football world did not know who FSU was or where it was even located. It was a wise move by FSU to bring him there. Not sure without him being there all these years FSU would be where they are today. He went out and was not afraid to play traditional winning teams. I listened to him speak at Callaway Gardens one night. One thing about Bobby, the guy can do some talking and he’s full of energy. No wonder kids wanted to play for him.
I wish him and his family the best. His record at FSU speaks for itself.

Gerald

August 24th, 2010
10:51 am

I don’t think too many Georgia fans that will support Mark Schlabach. He’s not been a vocal suppporter of Georgia over at ESPN, in fact, he doesn’t think the team will even win the SEC East this year, doesn’t even have Georgia ranked in the top 10 pre-seaosn in his own poll. I don’t think that will help Mark’s book sales among Georgia fans.

I buy books, like most Georgia fans, from supporters of Georgia, not from critics.

I’ll wait until the book comes out at the library, I personally won’t be supporting a Georgia critic.

#2 BAMA FAN

August 24th, 2010
10:51 am

Folks we all love Nick Saban for now (never know about how long he stays at places) but he will never
replace BEAR BRYANT!!! RTR

help, I live in Ga

August 24th, 2010
10:54 am

Great man. Great coach. I’ll buy the book. It would have been better if he didn’t address his departure. As the years go by, that won’t be as important. Things I’ll remember:

Punt-ruskie.
Wide Right
Wide Right

Great relationships with the likes of Joe Pa (who should retire) and Lou Holtz.

He was a man who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. Not too many of those left.

@WreckBuZZ

August 24th, 2010
10:55 am

Pick the winners of the 6 BCS conferences and national champion – win $1,000! http://www.chuckoliver.net #kingcfb

Fleischman in Chattanooga

August 24th, 2010
10:56 am

Simple Simon, Can Richt win a National Championship on his own or does he have to be a lackey for someone else?

Fleischman in Chattanooga

August 24th, 2010
10:57 am

Simple Simon, When people ask about those FSU teams of the 90’s you will be the only one saying that Richt was the brains behind the operation.

Otto

August 24th, 2010
10:58 am

Gerald, As a UGA fan Mark Schlabach is most likely correct, no top 10 finish or SEC East title this year.

Tom Tom

August 24th, 2010
10:58 am

Mark Schlabach’s a Florida fan, he raved and swaggered about how Florida will walk right into the National Championship last season. Of course, he didn’t anticipate Alabama blowing out Florida in the SEC Championship. Mark’s big on Florida again this year, and down on Georgia again for the second year in a row.

Here’s his article from last year raving about Florida:
http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/preview09/columns/story?
columnist=schlabach_mark&id=4413467

The Man That Made Roswell Ed Famous

August 24th, 2010
11:00 am

Do you get a FREE PAIR OF SHOES with each book bought? WDE!!

Fleischman in Chattanooga

August 24th, 2010
11:00 am

Also Simple its news to Uga that they won two national championships. If your going to throw out statistics please be correct. Also I am curious to where the other 3 National Championships at FSU? What year were those in?

Shug

August 24th, 2010
11:05 am

The dude hung on 10 years too long, and FSU has suffered for it. Come to think of it, now that he has the time, Bobby can study up and get him one of those famous FSU criminal justice degrees just like his players.

North Avenue Ned

August 24th, 2010
11:06 am

Mike, you’re an idiot.

Ray

August 24th, 2010
11:09 am

I hope Georgia fans will boycott all ESPN writers, until they start saying some fair & good things about Georgia and Richt. Mark Schlabach, Herbstreet, James, Jesse, Holtz, can all mock Georgia if they want, they’re perogative, but when they go to hawk their book(s), we don’t have to buy them.

Mark "Crimson Crier" Ingram

August 24th, 2010
11:09 am

Simple Simon – Please define “National Championship season”. Is that the same thing as “Pre-season BCS National Champions”? I know Corch Richt helped coach and won some NCs at FSU and there’s trophies at FSU to prove it, but where does the UGA 2002 and 2007 “National Championship Season” trophies reside?

William

August 24th, 2010
11:11 am

DawginLex

August 24th, 2010
11:16 am

Herbstreit actually has UGA as his darkhorse to win the SEC.

1 More Time

August 24th, 2010
11:25 am

Seth Emerson wrote about how a couple of ESPN writers (Herbstreit & James) snubbed Georgia, and didn’t pick Georgia in the top 25 in their top 25 pre-season poll:
http://dawg-extra.blogspot.com/2010/08/dissecting-ap-poll.html

17 of 20

August 24th, 2010
11:25 am

Georgia has one and only one National Championship.

Strange Tails

August 24th, 2010
11:34 am

There’s a bunch of books already written about Bowden, don’t think there’s anything left to say. Best book of all of them, if you only get one, is The Bowden Way.

GStateBen

August 24th, 2010
11:36 am

Tony,

Bobby’s not bitter? Have you read the Sporting News article when he blasts TK Weatherell and says that he wasn’t told about Jimbo’s $5 million option after the 2011 season?

He is single handedly for hiring incompetent coaches (Dexter Carter, Jody Allen, Chuck Amato, Jeff Bowden, etc.) and having them continue to bring down a program. Read some of the defensive player’s comments from the spring and so far through Fall camp. They didn’t even have a playbook last season! This isn’t pee wee football, he allowed this to happen.

For all that he did for FSU, he did damage by bringing the program back down. Most don’t understand that he has serious financial problems after failed real estate investments. Do not be suprised if this is the last book because all he and Ann had to do was be quiet and they would be given $2 million annually.

I am a Florida State fan and have been since I was young (my first game was in 1993) but the more you realize about Bobby is that we are in much better hands right now with Jimbo than the previous 10 years under Bowden.

GeorgiaBoy

August 24th, 2010
11:40 am

“I wanted to keep the battle going with Joe Paterno . . .”

EXACTLY.
Ego before program.
He needed to go.

WonderDawg

August 24th, 2010
11:45 am

That’s right. 12-0-0. Undisputed and unanimous. We didn’t back into it by beating a team with the same final record, who beat us a few weeks before. Or have to have a TV program on ESPN lobbying to get in the big game, like Urban did.

UF played great in their last two title games, but got lucky to get in. The Gators were no better in those seasons than UGA was in ‘02, ‘05, and ‘07. UF got in the big game, UGA didn’t.

17 of 20

August 24th, 2010
11:46 am

We’ve never had a perfect season.

I am not going to be the head coach at Alabama. I am the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

August 24th, 2010
12:03 pm

A class act indeed. You can argue about some of his weak disciplinary actions over the years, but a true class act.

AJC is pathetic

August 24th, 2010
12:05 pm

“As a boy growing up in Birmingham, there are a lot of good memories at Bryant-Denny Stadium.”

Someone please provide the AJC “writers” with a remedial course in grammar.

No wonder this rag is going out of business.

BG

August 24th, 2010
12:10 pm

Bobby Bowden is a great man and a class act. I will miss seeing him on the field this year.

Tide Rising

August 24th, 2010
12:11 pm

5IML,

Yep. He’s back. Patrick Sulley must be posing as simple simon today. But at least he’s sticking to one handle. Yesterday he had 7 different handles all have conversations and agreeing with each other and all having the same diction, subject matter, and grammatical structure.

Beast of the East had a good point on this guy. Said his mentality and his obsession with Richt and Saban is that of a stalker. I think his mind confuses Richt with Jesus Christ and Saban with Satan.

Tony could come up with an article on the Oregon-Oregon State rivalry and this stalker dude would turn it into a Richt is God and Saban is the devil rant. This guy has some serious psychological issues. Its these kinda guys that people like Richt or Saban gotta watch out for. And no. I’m not joking.

Fast Eddie

August 24th, 2010
12:21 pm

Simple Simon, no handle was ever more appropriate than yours. Get your head out of Richt’s butt. I think he’s a very good coach but not a great coach………….yet. He is a fine Christian gentleman and I would love for my grandsons to emulate him as a person but he is NOT a great football coach yet.

Still@theBAR

August 24th, 2010
12:22 pm

I hate to think Bobby B will be like many old football coaches and die a few months after he leaves the game. I hope he is fulfilled in his life after being a coach. Enjoy retirement Bobby.

Tide Rising

August 24th, 2010
12:23 pm

GstateBen.

I’m not sure I would call Chuck Amato and Jeff Bowden incompetent. Bowden guided Southern Miss to a lot of good years over a long period of time- I’m guessing something like 12-15 straight winning seasons. Amato was with Bowden during the great years of the 14 year run of top 5 finishes. You may very well be right about the other coaches though. Now if the defensive players didn’t even have a playbook then I would certainly agree that that would be disturbing and one would indeed have to wonder what the hell is going on. Wayyy too much talent at FSU for their defense to have sunk to such lows- poor coaching would have to be the most obvious reason why.

Also, Bowden did get slaughtered in that weird investment scam orchestrated by his son and of all things a former bama backup qb- Brian Burgdorf. I think most of us forgot about that but I would assume he still had a significant net worth even after losing 2 million. I could be wrong though and you do make some very good points.

In any event I can certainly see your point of view and that of other FSU fans who believe he should have stepped down before so much damage was done. Its a tough call to run him off or let him go on his own terms. At Bama we’re much more efficient at running someone off.

WonderDawg

August 24th, 2010
12:32 pm

Exactly right, Fast Eddie. He’s got to win the big one to be considered “great.” Otherwise, he will go down a a good coach who had some great, but underachieving teams.

As I wrote at 11:45, some of Richt’s teams were a bit unlucky, but if the ‘02 and ‘05 UGA teams had taken care of business vs UF, they would have been in the big game. If the ‘07 team hadn’t lost to either inferior SC or UT teams, they would have gotten in.

But, if you do like Saban, and keep a talented team focused enough to win every game, you deserve to be called a great coach.

quit whining wonderdog

August 24th, 2010
12:33 pm

UGA would have got in in 2007 but didn’t win the SEC East idiot! Richt learned his disciplinary philosophy from the foot of the master.

quit whining wonderdog

August 24th, 2010
12:36 pm

Tide rising, Jeff Bower was the coach at Southern Miss not Jeff Bowden dumbass. What do you expect from someone from alabama; couldn’t even get Mississippi correct on your tickets!!

Dog Fan

August 24th, 2010
12:43 pm

You guys ever notice how many times Tide rising brings up Patrick Sulley–could they be the same person?

What Richt Learned....

August 24th, 2010
12:45 pm

Bowden taught Richt the most important lesson. Recruit low character players and hide behind religion when things go bad.

Tide Rising

August 24th, 2010
12:46 pm

quit whining wonderdog,

Congrats. You caught me there reading too fast. We can’t all be perfect like yourself sir.

Simple Simon

August 24th, 2010
12:47 pm

Nick Saban didn’t do squat his first 9 seasons, didn’t win the big one either, I guess Saban’s not a good coach either, huh? Makes a lot of sense. Pulleeze.

Look, when you win more games and have 6 times more top 10 finishes than Bear Bryant did in his 1st 9 seasons, Richt’s doing ok.

Some of these posters have an odd Saban fixation.

Tide Rising

August 24th, 2010
12:49 pm

Dog fan,

You’re probably just another in a long line of aliases for Sulley- like simple simon. Myself and others bring it up because this troll constantly posts the same drivel over and over and over.

76-Dawg

August 24th, 2010
12:50 pm

If the movie was accurate in “WE ARE MARSHALL” what Bowden did to help the Marshall program was the classiest think I have ever seen in any sports.Bobby Bowden was a great coach and will always be ranked in the top 10 college football coaches. I think that FSU would have been willing to give Bowden this year as coach if the cheating sandal had not taken away 14 victory’s. Once that happened, FSU had a right to renege on the agreement. If the cheating scandal had not happened and Bowden had won 2 more games than Paterno in 2010 then it would have been one more year and then one more again ,when everybody knows that each team is really being coached by the assistant coaches because the head coaches can’t keep up with the speed any longer. Last year Bowden ,as with Paterno, looked confused and unable to keep up with the speed of the football games especially when it was a close at the end of a game. Bowden should have swallowed his PRIDE and taken FSU up on the offer to coach this year symbolically from the press box and said goodbye but his PRIDE would not allow it. I feel sorry for FSU having to take such an unpopular action. Nobody at FSU wanted Bowden to go out like this but 10 years ago their wouldn’t have been a cheating scandal either. As head coach you have to keep track of everything that affects your team and Bowden could no longer do that.

Tide Rising

August 24th, 2010
12:51 pm

Simple Simon,

You’re exactly right. Saban didn’t do crap his first 9 seasons. I can’t believe he didn’t win a national championship at Toledo or at Michigan State. But at least at Mich state he brought them their 2nd 10 win season in their unstoried history. I’m certain Richt would have won a national title at Toledo.

Hans

August 24th, 2010
12:52 pm

Patrick Sulley/Tide Rising/WonderDawg/Fast Eddie/5IML (Could they all be the same guy?)

Raving about Nick Saban. Bashing Mark Richt and Richt supporters.

Look, Bowden made a difference for Coach Richt, they worked together for over a decade. Richt wrote a nice word for the book in the book.

Fred

August 24th, 2010
12:53 pm

Bobby made me a fan of his years ago. He had just lost to Louisville (in the worst rain I have ever seen a game played in) ending any hopes of a Nat’l Championship and he made the following comment:

I told you a couple of weeks ago these things sort themselves out {multiple 1 loss teams and no undefeated teams that season}, well tonight we just sorted ourselves out.”

It was a classy comment after a tough loss. He had many others through the years, but for some reason after that one I became a fan of his. I STILL loved to hate FSU though………….

Gary

August 24th, 2010
1:01 pm

You don’t hear the Richt haters talking about Saban’s lack of National Championships his 1st 9 seasons as the litmus test. If you compare them head to head, 1st 9 seasons, Richt wins.

5IML

August 24th, 2010
1:05 pm

Hans,

I know you’re just flaming but, I don’t recall bashing Richt or his supporters. Can you cite the instance?

Also, stating that Saban’s documentary premieres tonight does not seem like raving to me.

5IML

August 24th, 2010
1:08 pm

Gary,

Remove the year Saban spent at Toledo (because Toledo cannot win the NC) and recalculate your figures. Or better yet, compare Saban’s last 9 seasons to Richt’s last 9.

5IML

August 24th, 2010
1:14 pm

Or be more concerned with Richt and your program than Saban and ours. What’s with the obsession? I get it. You love Richt so much. Great. What does that have to do with Saban?

Why do we have to do this (seemingly) every day?

Tide Rising

August 24th, 2010
1:23 pm

5IML,

simple simon just morphed into Dog fan, Hans, and Gary. Same points, same diction, etc. Most people are smart enough to know that Saban’s first 9 seasons at places like Toledo and MSU is not comparable to coaching at a place like Georgia. So when you see 2 or 3 different handles all agreeing on one absurd point you know its one of Patrick’s various aliases.

LHardingDawg

August 24th, 2010
1:25 pm

As a South Georgia man, I have watched and enjoyed Bobby and FSU for many years. He would play anybody, anywhere. I’ll never forget the time he took his team to Michigan and beat the great Michigan football machine in front of 108,000 people. Needless to say, they never scheduled FSU again.