Bowden announces he has terminal medical condition

Bobby Bowden announced Wednesday afternoon he has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition.

“I’ve always tried to serve God’s purpose for my life, on and off the field, and I am prepared for what is to come,” Bowden said. “My wife Ann and our family have been life’s greatest blessing. I am at peace.”

Bowden, 91, battled COVID in 2020 but recovered with the help of local doctors and nurses as well as family support. His condition has not been disclosed but he is now being treated at his Killearn home by caretakers and family.

Known around the nation as a national championship coach and a coaching legend, Bowden made a connection with fans as his quick wit, smile and “Hey, buddy” warmed up longtime friends and new ones, too. 

“Coach Bowden built a football dynasty and raised the national profile of Florida State University, and he did it with dignity, class and a sense of humor,” FSU president John Thrasher said. “Although his accomplishments on the field are unmatched, his legacy will go far beyond football. His faith and family have always come first, and he is an incredible role model for his players and fans alike. He is beloved by the FSU family.”

Bowden won games right away at FSU. After a 5-6 start in his first year in 1976, Bowden built the Seminoles into a powerhouse playing anyone anywhere and earning “The Road Warrior” nickname in the 1980s. By the late 1980s, the Seminoles were a top 5-team each year — a dynastic run recognized by everyone in college athletics. FSU was a top-4 team in each season from 1987-2000 while winning national titles in 1993 and ’99.

But Bowden has always been about more than the wins. He frequently said he coached the coaches and they coached the players, and his coaching tree went well beyond his own sons Terry, Tommy and Jeff as it extended to head coaches like Mark Richt and Chuck Amato as well as countless assistants, grad assistants and players who eventually became high school coaches.

Bowden’s legacy is one of faith, family and football — the themes of the “Bowden Dynasty” documentary in 2017. He is seen as a father figure (later a grandfather figure) for thousands of players who look up to him for guidance.

“He has influenced so many people beyond just the players he coached, and the staff who had the privilege of working with him,” FSU athletics director David Coburn said. “He is a part of the heart and soul of FSU, but it goes beyond even that – he is a big part of the history of the game. Anyone who has had the opportunity to be around Coach Bowden knows what it is like to know a person who has his priorities in the right order, who loves life and values integrity and honor.”

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