Bobby Bowden, a Hall of Fame college football coach who led Florida State University to two national titles, died on Sunday. He was 91 years old at the time.
Bowden died at 5:08 a.m. at his Tallahassee home, surrounded by his wife, Ann, and their six children, according to his daughter Ginger Bowden.
“He passed peacefully,” she said. “His family was with him during the night.”
Late last month, Terry Bowden, a football coach at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, said his father had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and Bowden detailed his battle with the terminal illness to the newspaper.
“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.”
FSU also announced Bowden’s death on Twitter Sunday.
“Today we lost a legend but you never lose a legacy,” the university wrote. “Rest In Peace Coach Bowden.”
Bowden was being treated by caretakers and family at his home in the Killearn Estates neighborhood.
Bowden tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020, and he was hospitalised for five days in June for tiredness and more medical tests.
Bowden, who was born on November 8, 1929, in Birmingham, Alabama, was hired as FSU’s head football coach in 1976 and stayed for 34 years.
Bowden led FSU to a 316-97-4 record during his tenure, winning the national championship in 1993 and 1999 and having only one losing season during his first year in 1976 before retiring in 2009.
Bowden has the second-best overall coaching record among major college coaches, trailing only the late Joe Paterno, who had 409 victories.
He coached future Pro Football Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, and Deion Sanders, as well as Heisman Trophy winners Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke.
“God bless the Bowden family, friends and loved ones,” Sanders wrote on Twitter Sunday. “Prayers are with you. I’ve lost one of the best coaches I’ve ever had.”
Current FSU Head Coach Mike Norvell also offered his condolences to Bowden’s family, saying the university community was hurting at the loss of “our program’s patriarch.”
“Coach Bowden was one of the greatest coaches ever, but more than that he was an incredible man,” said Norvell. “He was a special human being who earned an enduring legacy because of his wonderful heart, faith and values he lived.”
Retiring Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden takes a ride off the field after his final game as coach coming, from behind to defeat West Virginia 33-21, in Jacksonville, Fla., on January 1, 2010. The longtime Florida State football coach, who ranks second in all-time Division I wins, died on August 8 at age 91. Photo by Mark Wallheiser