Bobby Bowden dies: Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Deion Sanders react as football world mourns the legend’s death


College football lost a legend on Sunday, as Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden died at 91. Bowden, who collected 377 career wins and two national championships during his 40 years as a major college coach, announced he was suffering from a terminal illness — his son, Terry Bowden, later confirmed it was pancreatic cancer — on July 21. 

In his terminal-illness announcement, Bowden said he was “at peace.” 

“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 told the Tallahassee Democrat “My wife, Ann, and our family have been life’s greatest blessing. I am at peace.”

Bowden turned Florida State football into a national powerhouse during his 34-year tenure in Tallahassee. The Seminoles won 12 ACC titles under Bowden, adding national championships in 1993 and 1999. For 14-straight seasons (1987-2000) Bowden helped FSU finish in the AP top 5. 

In addition to FSU, Bowden coached at Samford and West Virginia. He retired in 2009.

Here’s some of the love the college football world has shown Bowden since news of his death was announced.

Louisiana-Monroe coach Terry Bowden, Bobby Bowden’s son, wrote on Twitter he was “touched” by the support FSU fans have shown since his father’s passing. 

Under Bowden, former FSU star Deion Sanders became one of college football’s most feared defensive backs. Sanders earned the Thorpe award, given to the nation’s best defensive back, in 1988. The former two-time consensus All-American was also eighth in Heisman in voting in 1988.   

Derrick Brooks won two consensus All-American honors and a national championship (1993) while playing for Bowden at FSU. FSU retired Brooks’ No. 10 jersey in 2010.    

Warrick Dunn also played on the Seminoles’ 1993 championship team, a season in which he earned freshman All-America honors. Bowden helped Dunn become the 1995 Sugar Bowl MVP and the program’s first ever rusher to clear 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.   

Bowden coached Wayne Messam from 1993-96, winning a national title in the wide receiver’s freshman season. Messam is now the mayor of Miramar, Florida, a position he’s held since 2015.     

Bowden led the Seminoles in many thrilling games against rival Miami, both of which rose to national prominence in the 1980s. Howard Schnellenberger, the Canes’ former coach, also died this year.  

 Bowden also led FSU in classic battles against the Florida Gators, finishing with a 17-18- record against the Gators.  

Several legendary, national championship winning coaches reacted to Bowden’s death as well, including Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Urban Meyer and Mack Brown.

Bowden coached West Virginia from 1970 to 1975, winning the Peach Bowl in his final season in Morgantown.   



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