Bobby Bowden, legendary Florida State University football coach, dies at 91
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Bobby Bowden, legendary Florida State University football coach, dies at 91

Bobby Bowden, the famed college football coach who led Florida State University for over 30 years and transformed the Tallahassee team into a powerhouse, died Sunday, the school said in a statement. He was 91.

Bowden “passed peacefully” at his home, according to a statement from his daughter given to the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

In July, Bowden was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“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 in a statement last month. “My wife Ann and our family have been life’s greatest blessing. I am at peace.”

Under Bowden’s steady coaching leadership, FSU became one of the dominant teams of the 1990s, winning nine straight conference titles, and National Championships in 1993 and 1999. In particular, the 1999 team entered the preseason ranked as the country’s best and stayed there until the end, going a perfect 12-0 on the season.

From 1987 to 2000, he led FSU to 14 straight 10-win seasons, part of a remarkable stretch of 28 straight bowl games.

Bowden coached two Heisman Trophy winners in his career: quarterbacks Charlie Ward in 1993 and Chris Weinke in 2000.

Bowden retired from coaching at the end of the 2009 season after 44 seasons, which included six years at West Virginia University and 34 years at FSU. He coached his last game against his former school, West Virginia — a 33-21 victory in the 2010 Gator Bowl.

Bowden is the second-winningest coach in NCAA history with 357 wins, behind the late former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

FSU President John Thrasher praised Bowden in a statement on Sunday.

“Florida State University has lost a legend in the passing of Bobby Bowden. On behalf of everyone at FSU, Jean and I extend our deepest condolences to Ann and the Bowden family,” he said. “Coach Bowden built a football dynasty and raised the national profile of Florida State University, and he did it with class and a sense of humor.”

“While he leaves an incredible legacy as one of the best football coaches in collegiate history, he also will be remembered for his great faith, his love of family and his mentorship of countless young people. He will be profoundly missed.”

Last month, FSU Director of Athletics David Coburn said, “Bobby Bowden has meant everything to Florida State athletics and so much to college football in general. He has influenced so many people beyond just the players he coached, and the staff who had the privilege of working with him. 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.”

In 2011, Bowden revealed he was secretly treated for prostate cancer in 2007 while he was still coaching.

“I wasn’t ashamed of it,” Bowden said in an appearance on CNN explaining why he did not reveal the disease sooner. “I didn’t want it to get out because I didn’t want my opponents to use it against me.”

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