WERNER OUTLAND TROPHY AWARD DINNER
Tom Osborne Legacy Award Recepient
The 4th Tom Osborne Legacy Award was presented — by Osborne to Bobby Bowden— at the Outland Trophy Dinner at the downtown Doubletree in Omaha.
During Bowden’s first year as head coach at WVU, the football team of the state’s other top-division school, Marshall University, fell victim to a tragic plane crash. Bowden asked NCAA permission to wear Marshall jerseys and play Marshall’s final game of the 1970 season against Ohio, but was denied. In memory of the victims of the crash, Mountaineers players put green crosses and the initials “MU” on their helmets. Bowden allowed Marshall’s helmets. Bowden allowed Marshall’s new head coach Jack Lengyel and his assistants access to game film and playbooks to acquaint themselves with the veer offense, a variation of the option offense which aids teams with weak offensive lines. Lengyel credits Bowden with helping the young Thundering Herd recover. Bowden reportedly became emotional while viewing the movie We Are Marshall, and has said that he was the original candidate for the Marshall head coaching job vacated by crash victim Rick Tolley.
Bowden became the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles because the climate was warmer than in Morgantown, and because Tallahassee was closer to Birmingham, Alabama, where his mother and mother-in-law both lived. The team had a 4–29 record over the previous three seasons, and Bowden planned to stay only briefly before taking a better job, perhaps as head coach at Alabama.During his 34 years as Florida State’s head coach he had only one losing season–his first, in 1976–and declined head coaching job offers from Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons. From 1987 to 2000 the Seminoles finished every season with at least 10 wins and in the top 5 of the Associated Press College Football Poll, and won the national championship in 1993 and 1999.
Coach Bowden has spent much of his life after coaching college football either on the golf course, making appearances throughout the country or with his wife Anne. Coach remains very active, sometimes doing as many as five appearances a week. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
In recognition of his career achievements and faith, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) awards The Bobby Bowden Athlete of the Year Award (started in 2004) each year to a Division I FBS football player who epitomizes the student-athlete and conducts himself as a faith model in the community, in the classroom and on the field. Nominees must have 3.0 GPA or better and must have the backing of his school’s Athletic Director and Head Football Coach.
Coach Bowden speaks monthly to numerous Christian groups (churches, FCA, colleges etc.) throughout the country giving motivational speeches.