It's been 417 games since Florida State took the field with a new head football coach. And now that the Bowden years are beginning to fade, most Nole fans like to remember the good times. One of them is Doc Lawrence. Since graduating from FSU, he's been a journalist with a long career in print, online, broadcasting, and television. A regular contributor to Wines Down South, he's launching a new syndicated radio show to be heard throughout the Southeast. Today, Doc shares a memory of a coach who was never too busy for people he didn't even know.
Some of my favorite personalities are chefs, folk artists musicians and occasional sports celebrities. I include Mario Batali, the late Howard Finster and Willie Nelson in this assemblage and among the sports stars, no one has brought more joy to me than Bobby Bowden. I first crossed paths with him in 1976, where he met with a small group in an Atlanta hotel to chat about his plans as head coach for FSU. He was the most relaxed man I ever met and he was funny. The kind of humor that doesn't offend.
Over the years I saw him speak before auspicious gatherings like the Atlanta Touchdown Club and even churches where he would stand in for a minister rather admirably. You could look for piousness or some self-serving motive, but you'd leave empty handed. Bowden was true to his core beliefs and about as fairminded as any spiritually based fellow I know. If one of his purposes was to lead others by his example, he did a fine job by my standards.
One season, Bowden played a killer schedule that included road games with Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU and Nebraska, all in a row and all on the road.
The fearsome schedule caught the imagination of major newspapers all over America and Bowden, to the surprise of the sports world, came home with victories. His comments after defeating Notre Dame still bring chuckles. "Today Touchdown Jesus (a reference to the statue at the Notre Dame field), is a Southern Baptist." Bowden is a Southern Baptist.