Bobby Bowden…Saint Bobby to many…announced his retirement today and the reaction from fans, Florida State alumni and his peers has been nothing but great. While he has come under fire in the past few years for lackluster seasons, Bobby will now be remembered for not only his accomplishments, but also his leadership and personality.
Sure, people will remember the numbers…after all, who won’t?
They are simply staggering!
- 2nd winningest coach in Major College Football with 388 wins (only behind another legend, Joe Paterno)
- 2 National Titles (1993 and 1999)
- 14 Straight 10 Win Seasons
- 14 Straight Top 5 finishes
- 27 Straight Bowl Games
- First team to go wire to wire as the #1 team in the AP Poll (1999)
And we haven’t even begun to look at Conference Championships or number of players drafted into the NFL.
However, it won’t be the numbers that are remembered, but rather his leadership and who he was. To more than one generation, Bobby Bowden was Florida State University. He built a program from scratch and, quite honestly, changed it from a history of losing to the powerhouse that is has been. Here’s a smattering of Bobby’s leadership lessons:
1 – Go to where the action is! He declared that he would play anyone, anywhere and he went on the road, in one long stretch playing consecutive games against Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Pittsburg and LSU. He won more than he lost against the “big boys” and built the Seminoles into the legend that exists today. Leaders take on the big issues of the day.
2 – Stay low key! Even while piling up these impressive numbers, he remained humble and the epitome of polite. “Aw Shucks” and “Dadgummit” seemed to be the most profane words to emerge from his mouth. Anyone who followed Seminole football can remember countless times where he spoke of the adversity that our team faced, some of it in the form of our opponents, and quite often, much of it was ourselves. Leaders focus on actions, not words, all too forgotten in today’s smack-talk world.
3 – Surround yourself with the best – Bobby Bowden didn’t make all this happen in a vacuum. He had great coaches such as Mickey Andrews, Chuck Amato and Mark Richt. Some left, some came back, but they all helped grow a tremendous program. Leaders find others who are great and find a way to work with them.
Watching the Seminoles play, whether at Doak Campbell Stadium or, more recently, on TV 3,000 miles away, Bobby Bowden has always been the face of Seminole Football. Like everyone else, I say goodbye to Bobby and hope that we learn from him and his leadership style.
Thanks for reading, and if you have tickets to the bowl game (his last), please send me a picture from the stands,