Bobby Bowden is apparently going to announce his retirement on Tuesday. This conjures up a lot of professional memories involving the Florida State head coach dating back to 1997.
As a student radio and TV reporter in Gainesville, I spent a great deal of time around Bowden and Steve Spurrier. My first contact with Bowden was at a Florida college football coaches media day held at Universal Studios in Orlando. I was instructed by my bosses at AM 850 WRUF to try to get as many one on one interviews as possible with the coaches in attendance. Spurrier was always prickly when you tried to approach him individually. That quality was only enhanced when the interviewer was 19 years old.
Bowden was the polar opposite. His response was to wrap his arm around me as we walked down a sidewalk and say, "Hey there, Boy, how ya doin'?" I don't remember anything else about our conversation. Bowden's qualities didn't change over the years that followed but his outward joy toward media contact seemed to wane, as the losses mounted and the teflon attached to him began to fade.
The modern college football coach has evolved from good ol' boy to buttoned up corporate CEO. Here's to the last of a species that may now be extinct.
(Undated photo following one of Bowden's triumphs over Spurrier)