He was called by God to be a football coach.
-Wayne Atcheson, Historian, Billy Graham Library
FCA mourns the passing but celebrates the life and
legacy of longtime friend Coach Bobby Bowden, who went to be
with the Lord on August 8, 2021.
“It’s huge, huge gain for
heaven and huge, huge loss for the coaching community and for our ministry,”
said FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson. “He is one of the few coaches that
really set FCA apart and helped our ministry to become what it is today through
his value of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.”
reading comments about Coach Bowden from his former players, Williamson noted
that Bowden became a father-figure for many young men throughout his
illustrious coaching career.
“FCA continues to pray for Bobby’s family and friends during
this time of loss, but we are so grateful for the time spent with this
legendary leader,” said Williamson. “We have no doubt that Jesus opened His
arms and said, ‘Welcome home, my good and faithful servant.’”
After contracting rheumatic fever at age
thirteen, Bowden’s dreams of playing football seemed far-reaching. However, he
overcame these obstacles and pursued his passion, becoming a standout
quarterback at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama, then taking his
talents to the University of Alabama and Howard College (now Samford
Bowden’s career in college football didn’t stop
there. Bowden went on to be one of the greatest coaches in college football
history, coaching at West Virginia and South Georgia State, among others,
before accepting the head coach position at Florida State in 1976 where he
remained until his retirement in 2009. Other than his first year coaching, he
never experienced a losing season in Tallahassee. Under Bowden’s exemplary
leadership, Florida State won two national championships (1993 and 1999) and 12
Atlantic Coast Conference titles. He finished his 44-year career with 357
victories and was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
Even more important to Bowden, however, was his
faith in Jesus Christ. Throughout his career, he consistently lived out the
Gospel message to everyone he met, from holding Bible studies for his coaching
staff to encouraging players to join church activities and community outreach.
Bowden was a renowned FCA advocate and spoke frequently at
national FCA events. He and his wife, Ann, even led an FCA-sponsored
trip to the Holy Land in 1997.
"He taught a Sunday School class most of his years as Florida State’s head coach even during the season. In his retirement years, when he spoke hundreds of times, he would ask the host pastor, 'Are there going to be any lost (unsaved) people here tonight?' He was there to tell humorous stories but the main thing was his unique way of telling people why they need Jesus Christ in their life as Lord and Savior," said Billy Graham Library Historian and FCA partner Wayne Atcheson.
As a result of his dedication to the
organization, FCA instituted the FCA Bobby
Bowden Athlete of the Year Award in 2004, and Coach Bowden wrote numerous Daily Impact Play devotionals aimed at the heart of a competitor.
Commented Williamson, “I hope
a lot of coaches will take care to note, not the number of games he won, but
the comments of the men whose lives are different today because of him. Coach
Bowden was truly a 3D Coach before the concept of 3D Coaching.”
Williamson continued, “The loss of Bobby Bowden is especially
heartbreaking to those who knew him best, but his legacy will live on, both in
football history as well as here at FCA.”
A public funeral service will be held for Bowden
on Saturday, August 14th, on Florida State's campus. Public viewings
will take place at FSU's Doak Campbell Stadium on Friday and on the campus of
Samford University, his alma mater, on Sunday, August 15th. He is
survived by his wife, Ann, and their six children.
Daily Impact Play
The Future Lies in the Past
“At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:13-14
History always repeats itself because humankind fails to learn from their failures. Therefore, we do well to remember historical events such as the Holocaust, the Civil War and the Israelites’ forty-year wilderness wandering. The Bible tells us why the world is like it is: sin. The Bible has much to say about blessings that comes as a result of obeying and the curses, or consequences, that occur as a result of sin... Read Bowden's Devo
Photos courtesy of Wayne Atcheson, Ocoee FCA, Noah Wilbanks, and Doug Benc/Getty Images