Not to be outdone, Samford University outside Birmingham, Ala., unveiled a statue of Bobby Bowden in 2013.
Bowden played at Samford (then Howard College) from 1950-53, earning Little All-America honors in 1952. He returned as the school’s head football coach from 1959-62 and led the Bulldogs to a 31-6 mark — a school-record .838 winning percentage. Samford beat Gordon Military 52-20 in the 1959 Textile Bowl to cap a 9-1 season, the winningest in school history.
It’s the sports moment judged the greatest in school history for launching one of the greatest coaching careers in college football history.
After eight years as an assistant coach, Bowden won 377 games in the NCAA’s highest level, the Football Bowl Subdivision — 42 wins at West Virginia from 1970-75 and 335 at Florida State from 1976-2009. Only Penn State’s Joe Paterno (409) had more FBS victories.
Bowden’s influence at Samford resumed in 1987, when son Terry took over as head coach of the NCAA Division III program. Terry’s brother Jeff and brother-in-law Jack Hines served as his coordinators.
The Orlando Sentinel reported:
[Terry] Bowden credits much of the team’s success to Bobby, a former standout quarterback (1951-53) and successful head coach (1959-62) at Samford who taught the family virtually everything it knows about football.
Jeff Bowden, a former wide receiver at Florida State, and Hines, a former strong safety at West Virginia, played under Bobby. Terry Bowden, a former running back at West Virginia, missed by one season. All three family members were graduate assistant coaches under Bobby at FSU.
Bobby also has helped in recruiting. Forty-five of Samford’s 115 players are from Florida … But Bobby refuses to take any credit for the family’s success.
”They deserve the credit,” said Bobby, who also coached sons Steve, an associate professor of religion and philosophy at Samford, and Tommy, receivers coach at the University of Alabama. ”All I can do for them is open some doors. They have to get the job done. They are all hard, tireless workers with big goals.”
Terry Bowden went on to equal his father’s 9-1 mark that first season at Samford. In 1989, Samford moved up to Division I-AA (now FCS) and Terry Bowden led the Bulldogs to their first playoff appearances in 1991-92.
And today, Bobby Bowden’s statue greets visitors at the entrance on Samford’s Seibert Stadium.
Middle: Samford’s statue of Bobby Bowden outside Seibert Stadium. (Courtesy Samford University Athletics)
On the cover and above: Bobby Bowden as head coach of the Samford (then Howard College) football team. (Courtesy Samford University Athletics)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Saint Louis and Samford
• Tuesday: Sam Houston State and Seattle
• Wednesday: South Florida and Southeast Missouri State
• Thursday: Southeastern Louisiana and SIU Edwardsville
• Friday: SMU and Southern Mississippi