Bobby Bowden on coaching: ‘Try raising 100 kids; it ain’t easy’

ATHENS – Bobby Bowden is a whole lot older, but he hasn’t changed a bit.

Bowden, 82, was at Georgia’s football complex Friday morning as the featured speaker for coach Mark Richt’s annual coaches’ clinic. The longtime Florida State coach, who had Richt as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator, for more than a decade, took a few minutes before that appointment to answer questions from the reporters who cover the Bulldogs.

His famous sense of humor was apparent as soon as he entered the interview room, at which time he said, “what are all you idiots doing here?”

AJC columnist Jeff Schultz shared a lot of what Bowden said about drug-testing and the behavior of modern student-athletes in his Friday column. But following is some of the other good stuff Bowden shared as he addressed the group for about 15 minutes:

  • On what he’s doing these days . . .

“That’s all I’m doing now, speaking all the time and playing golf. Gotta get back this afternoon. Got a golf game. Sleep ‘til 12, then it’s time for a nap. Everything’s going pretty good.”

  • On his message at coaches clinics . ..

“I don’t talk Xs and Os. I don’t know the Xs and Os anymore. Football just keeps getting more and more sophisticated. It was very simple when I was coaching. So I talk about the experiences I learned that I think will help them.”

  • On Richt being the SEC’s longest-tenured coach at 12 years with a new five-year contract on the way. . . .

“You don’t hardly hear of it anymore. You know I was at Florida State for 34 years. I tried to get another year but I didn’t win enough doggone ballgames. Of course, Joe Paterno had about 60 years at Penn State. I don’t think you’re going to see that anymore. Mark’s time here is probably going to be greater than a lot of the coaches coming along now.

“Coaches are making so much money, the head coach, if they’re successful, that they retire quicker because they can retire quicker. Or they get another job, a more successful job. Yet with the money they’re making, if they don’t win they’re gone. So I don’t think we’re going to see the longevity like we used to see.

“There’s an underlying impatience among administrators caused by pressure from the boosters and the alumni. You’ve got to be lucky to hang on.”

  • On whether he saw such success coming for Richt as a head coach . . .

“You never know how an assistant coach is going to do. There are head coaches and there are assistant coaches. There are assistant coaches that are not good head coaches. Then there’s some that can do both. Mark is the kind of guy that can do both. The thing about Mark that is different from most coaches I know is he does it under control. He can control himself. A lot of them can’t.”

  • On whether drug-testing is necessary . . .

“Our society needs it. You need something to try to deter these boys and girls from getting into drugs. It’s all through society. Why are football players worse than everybody else? Everybody else is doing the same dad-gum thing. . . . We all ought to do it. But there’s always going to be some that fall between the cracks.”

  • On differences in modern student-athletes . . .

“The biggest thing that has hurt our country more than anything in the world is the breakdown of the family. I used to get so many players at Florida State that did not have a daddy. The male figure is missing, and a boy needs a male. They’ve all got these sweet mamas and sweet grandmamas and sweet big sisters, and they need a man pounding on them.”

  • On how much he keeps up with Richt and the slings and arrows he has encountered at Georgia. . . .

“I’m fairly well up on it. Mark and I don’t communicate all the time. He’ll call me occasionally with a question and I’ll call him occasionally with a question. But I do read the papers and I do read the news. That’s one thing about it when you retire, you become a laptop operator. So I can get all the information and I try to keep up with all [the schools] really. I spoke at Auburn last night, I spoke at Alabama, I spoke at Tennessee, I spoke at LSU, at things like this clinic. So I enjoy doing it. I do keep up with it.

“There’s no university immune to this. You might think you are. If your university is clean, you better hang loose, because it’s our society today.”

  • On how he got through the difficult times . . .

“Mark and I both have a lot of faith. Is that because we’re so good? No, it’s not because we’re so good. It’s because we were raised that way. And I think that gets you through the troubling times.

“I had troubles, too. Y’all have heard of Free Shoes University, haven’t you? I had problems down through the years. In fact, a slogan I used to have on my desk: “This Too Shall Pass.” When Coach tressell had his little problem up there, I wrote him a note. I said, don’t forget now, this too shall pass. And sure enough, in 10 years nobody will remember it.

“That’s what I told my sons. I had three sons that went into coaching. You’re going to get heat and if you can’t handle it you better get out of it.”

  • On connections to Georgia . . .

“I started my career in Georgia. South Georgia College. I was 25 years old. I was head football coach, athletic director and basketball coach. I fired me in basketball the next year, by the way.

“We won the first game, won the second game, Then I said, ‘golly, we might never lose a ballgame. I might be the next Rockne. We got beat 60-something to nothing the next week. Then I was asking myself, ‘should you be coaching or should you be out of this thing?’ Those are things you learn. . . .

“They tried to fire me up at West Virginia one year. I had a losing year and they tried to fire me. They put the dummy up in the tree and all that. They wanted the real thing but they had to use a dummy.”

  • On whether coaching is harder now than it was

“It gets worse every year. There’s so many things they can get into. [But] you’ve got a chance to save them in football. Knowing Mark, knowing Coach Van [Dave Van Halanger], knowing John Eason, boys that used to coach with me, they’re interested in the boy. They’re interested in the boy becoming successful, not just money-wise but education and behaving himself. Boy that’s tough.

“I had six children. They were all different. Some of them that just weren’t going to do what I said to do. Then I had ol’ Tommy, he’s the sweetest kid I had. He would say, Daddy, don’t spank me. I’ll do whatever you say, Daddy. But not Terry. ‘Open that door where I can get out of here. I’ve got some things going on that you ain’t gonna find out about.’

“So anybody that has raised kids knows, it ain’t easy. Try to raise 100 of them.”

41 comments Add your comment


March 30th, 2012
4:39 pm

same ole bobby

tide roll

March 30th, 2012
4:40 pm

For 3 million per year, I’ll give it a shot.


March 30th, 2012
4:42 pm

heck I’d take 1M p/yr if they’re offering


March 30th, 2012
4:52 pm

It’s not the coaches fault. Players are grown men, I don’t begrudge a few mistakes, but seriously after a few people have been punished and everyone knows what the standards are, to blatantly disregard that is selfish and immature.


March 30th, 2012
4:54 pm

If theres anything our entire society needs it’s responsibility for our individual actions and maturity.

I don’t expect coaches to police players. I expect players to act like care about thier teammates and their future.


March 30th, 2012
5:14 pm


Pago Pago DAWG

March 30th, 2012
5:22 pm

These idiots spell team=ME. Don’t recruit so many nasty dead locks.
Look at BYU, Idaho, Utah….


March 30th, 2012
5:38 pm

Unfortunately, personal responsibility is almost a forgotten requirement. These young men have been warned and counseled, they have seem the consequences of not adhereing to rules and they keep thinking it won’t happen to them. How many of you were not “bullet proof” at 18-20 years old?


March 30th, 2012
5:40 pm

Wise words from a coaching veteran, especially about drugs and testing, we need uniformity!!


March 30th, 2012
5:45 pm

Bowden’s my favorite ex-coach. His folksiness hides narcissism, but most coaches are narcissists anyway. I liked the little dig at FSU – “at Florida State for 34 years…tried to get another year but didn’t win enough doggone ballgames.” Uhh, Coach, FSU gave you about a decade to retire gracefully but you wouldn’t do it, and finally forced their hand. The “coach-in-waiting” was the last hint that you wouldn’t take.

“They tried to fire me up at West Virginia one year. I had a losing year and they tried to fire me.” The old coach never forgets a slight. Maybe that’s why he abandoned WVU for a more (at that time) obscure program. Yes, not even the great Bobby Bowden is immune from ungrateful fans when he stinks up the joint.

And the best line: “try raising 100 [kids]“. Too funny, Coach. I’m sure the parents of your former players will be surprised to hear that someone else “raised” their kids.

Bowden hasn’t been showing the best side of himself in recent years, unfortunately. But he got the better of Spurrier, and for that he’ll always be at the top of my list.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

March 30th, 2012
6:00 pm

Lets make excuses


No wonder why 10 win seasons are considered the pinnacle of success at UGA

As a UGA fan I have enjoyed watching other programs (aka AL LSU AUB TENN) the last 15years win championships who do not have the recruiting base as UGA nor the money as UGA


March 30th, 2012
6:02 pm

do it once, shame on you

do it twice, then shame on me


March 30th, 2012
6:10 pm

Better yet, try to coach 100 kids that you didn’t raise!


March 30th, 2012
6:24 pm

Ed….give it a rest…thanks

Top Row Dog

March 30th, 2012
7:01 pm

Michael Adams……. win just enough to bring in the money, but not enough to distract from Academics and be a bulls eye for NCAA investigation and probation.


March 30th, 2012
7:09 pm

This too shall pass…


March 30th, 2012
7:42 pm

Pass me another brownie honey.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

March 30th, 2012
7:46 pm

Another national championship trophy for this season


National Champions in Player Discipline Problems


March 30th, 2012
7:47 pm

It’s dumb to blame the coaches. Georgia has twins on the football team. One has been in trouble twice and the other hasn’t been in trouble any. Same parents, same coaches. The difference is one is mature and has character, the other doesn’t, that’s the players fault, not the coaches. His punishment will be losing millions in pay, when the NFL drafts him lower than they would if he acted grown.


March 30th, 2012
7:50 pm

Saban had a player arrested for selling drugs on last year’s team. Now is that Saban’s fault, or the player’s?

HardTruth Soldier

March 30th, 2012
7:51 pm

BOBBY, BOBBY, BOBBY LOVE YA COACH, BUT Georgia is a different breed up here. Talent without discipline, and selfish me first players. Not coach Richt’s fault, but we know COACHES TAKE THE BLAME.

Glock 45

March 30th, 2012
8:04 pm

These football players are NOT kids….they are grown men and should be treated like it.


March 30th, 2012
8:29 pm

Has Spike Lee tweeted the address of the person who made the marijuana brownies.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

March 30th, 2012
8:34 pm

No Fullback up the middle runs last year

Run up the middle with a 120lb running back

Leading the country in discipline issues again

Will anything change around here

Mark (another one)

March 30th, 2012
8:36 pm

The Navy says the average age on an aircraft carrier is 19. These are adult men and women defending our country. The average age of the players at UGA is over 19, and they are men, accountable for their own actions. These issues are not the coaches. Its the players.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

March 30th, 2012
8:41 pm

And the navy and its leadership wont put up with this kind of crap either

Spike 80DF

March 30th, 2012
9:12 pm

after winning Mega Millions tonight my first purchase will be buying out Richt’s new contract and promoting Grantham to HC so we’ll finally be a hard nosed disciplined team…..

Frank Lane

March 30th, 2012
9:26 pm

Spike, almost all of the discipline problems are on defense for which Grantham is responsible. Your logic does not hold water.

I love this time of year

March 30th, 2012
9:43 pm

Some coaches seem to have less problem kids than others?


March 30th, 2012
10:05 pm

Coach Bowden is one of my all time favorites and so is Mark Richt. I like to think there is a lot of Coach Bowden in Coach Richt! I believe Coach Bowden summed it up correctly by mentioning his faith! Coach Richt instills this in his players and he always stands for what is right! I just wish all of his players would take heed! As Coach Bowden says: “This Too Shall Pass”! I believe it will and I believe the Dawgs will have a very successful season! GO DAWGS!!

Snoop Dawg

March 30th, 2012
10:16 pm

Preacha Man’s stupid, but sly and cunning. Brilliant to bring in old Bobby Bowdoin, that fossil who was great at FSU 20 years ago but milked them out of about $50M while they sank back into mediocrity.
Actually, he warned the Bulldog Nation, saying that he didn’t think that Richt was mean enough to win in the SEC. He was right.

Anyway, this is a great diversion from reality. Reality being the usual lack of discipline with the usual imcompetent staff like Bobo still in place. It’s a shame and a disservice to those student athletes who swallow Richt’s spiel and sign on to the scam.
Bulldog fans, Mssrs Adams and McGarrity take your money for granted. They do not care about true competition and excellence and championships.
You can sit in your armchairs and give to the Hartmann fund every year or you can make a stand. I’ am not going to take it any more. Would you succumb to an invasion of Communists or Muslim Caliphates? Well, that is what you are doing when you support that idiot Richt with an extension now with his record of incompentence and meciocrity.
You get what you demand. Enjoy another underachieving season.

Snoop Dawg

March 30th, 2012
10:20 pm

Hard Truth Soldier. You are not a soldier. You are an idiot.

Pago Pago DAWG

March 30th, 2012
10:20 pm

Somebody told us that LSWho watched either Titantic or Dead Men Walking the nite before the NC game.


March 30th, 2012
11:07 pm

Bowden and Richt remind me of the old saying: Smart enough to be a football coach, and stupid enough to think it matters.

Fats OKelly

March 31st, 2012
1:28 am

It was all about winning for Bowden. Can we blame him? You look the other way,so you dont see any crime and just win baby just win. Bet alot of his players are in jail now

Fats OKelly

March 31st, 2012
1:31 am

Bobby was a great coach,but wasnt it a Bowden that got Auburn in trouble not long ago??

Snoop really???

March 31st, 2012
9:01 am

Hey snoop you are an idiot. I will be glad to take your seats in Sanford stadium. Wait…are you one of those that sits up in the top of the 600 section because you only started buying tickets in 2003 after they won an SEC championship? You wanna jump off the bandwagon? Go ahead and be a fairweather fan…more seats for me and my TRUE bulldog buddies!

Fats really???

March 31st, 2012
9:06 am

Fats, I believe that the renegade boosters they have over on the plains are running the show not any of the coaches they hire. The coaches are merely puppets for the money men. Having said that…yes Bowden was one and Chizic will be next if the NCAA will get their head out of their rear end.

Ol' Bag O' Doooooooosh

March 31st, 2012
11:29 am

Flat Tire

Same ole crap from you. Since you “enjoyed watching Auburn, LSU, Ala, and FL” GO ROOT FOR THEM.

You are not a Dawg. Quit acting like you are and reread your first statement, LOSER!!!!

Central Georgia Dawg

March 31st, 2012
11:45 am

I hear all the comments about coaches and responsibility. I hate what is going on at Georgia, but I can not put the blame on a coach or coaches. They literally have 4-5 hours with these kids. They can not police 75 or more players. You can’t go home with them, they are ultimately the decision makers. Here we have people who live and die by what a 18-22 year old kid does. It’s just like life, sometimes they are going to do things that just make you scratch your head, and question your leadership, and other times they are going to make you the proudest person in the world. We have all done stupid things to make our parents want to scream. Are our parents weak, bumbling, and ineffective? Before we go tearing down a man, look at the overall picture. 90% of this team is doing what they have to do, and making the university proud. We focus on the 10%. I myself, am a coach. I can not be with my players on Friday and Saturday night. I too, am just a bad decision away from being deemed incompetant and a coach who has lost control. THe DAWG NATION needs to needs to let the athletic department do it’s job. We have seen great strides in team discipline and punishment. Do we really want to win at all costs? THe policies at the University are the strictest in the SEC. Florida has issues, Tennesee has them, even the mighty Alabama and LSU are not immune. I will now leave my soap box!

The Bear

March 31st, 2012
1:43 pm

@Central Georgia Dawg very true statement. UGA for some reason has a desire for total disclosure when it comes to the athletic department.

Roll Tide