John Corry’s concept was to tell the story of Bobby Bowden and Florida State’s dynasty years.
But he also had a vision for the documentary, discussing Bowden’s childhood battle with rheumatic fever and using the themes of faith, family and football to illustrate who Bowden is as he led the Seminoles to 14 straight years of top-5 finishes from 1987-2000. And Corry, an FSU graduate, didn’t want network executives to tell him how to do the film.
Corry and his wife, Patty, enlisted financial help from some of John’s Sigma Chi fraternity brothers and pitched the idea to coach Bobby Bowden – who quickly said yes. Within months the interviews began, led by filmmakers Rob Harvell and Brian Goodwin, who had experience producing “30 for 30” films for ESPN.
“Bowden Dynasty” was released in January 2017 and seen by 23,000 who watched in theaters across the country. Months later, more than 12,000 purchased DVDs.
But the vast majority of FSU alumni and fans have not had a chance to see the documentary until the film makes its television debut on Wednesday at 8 p.m. on the ACC Network. Whether you’ve seen the film or not, make sure you are near the TV, head to a friend’s house or set the DVR.
Corry and former FSU sports information director Wayne Hogan have worked to secure sponsorships for “Bowden Dynasty,” which will air with FSU-themed commercials from businesses and fans.
“There are going to be very few interruptions,” Corry said. “Usually they take out 28 minutes, they only took out 15 and a half minutes. We’ll be able to keep people engaged with our (commercial) spots.”
The film features interviews with Bowden, his wife, Ann, and their children. There are also interviews with dozens of FSU assistant coaches, former players, rival coaches and more (full list here). Corry worked with FSU, the ACC and others to secure the rights to archival photos and game film and it’s a fast-paced film that comfortably moves through the dynasty years without the use of a narrator.
At its core, this is Bowden’s story. A number of books have been written about his life and years at FSU, where he won a pair of national titles in 1993 and ’99 before retiring in 2009. But this film is visual and compelling in a way that written books aren’t.
Bowden had long waited for someone to tell his story. John and Patty Corry were fully invested, both financially and with time, in producing the project. And to John Corry, he thinks Bowden feels the film will help underscore the coach’s values both for longtime Seminole fans but also younger generations.
One of Bowden’s goals is to get the film into as many schools and athletic departments as possible via sponsorships from FSU fans.
“He really does see the film as something he’s leaving behind,” Corry said. “He says, ‘What is my legacy?’ and then he answers that question. It’s a really good ending. I think the film will play for 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. People will get a real good sense of who he was and what he wants the takeaway to be. You can be a good person and you don’t have to be a jerk all the time.”
The film was also a natural fit for the new ACC Network, which launched on Aug. 22 and is now available in more than 50 million homes. In the first month, the channel has done behind-the-scenes shows on Clemson and Louisville football as well as a Duke basketball documentary.
“Bowden Dynasty” is slated to run 10 times, with eight of those on ACC Network and two on ESPNU (schedule is subject to change).
“We decided a while back that storytelling would be a tent pole for this network,” said Rosalyn Durant, senior Vice President of college networks at ESPN. “Many will come in-house and others will come from great partners, like the ‘Bowden Dynasty.’ “
If you missed the Osceola’s podcast, where publisher Jerry Kutz interviews Bowden and Corry, you can listen here.