Oct. 24, 2013
by Layne Herdt (@LayneHerdt) Seminoles.com
The last time Bobby Bowden was inside Doak Campbell Stadium, fans were saying goodbye to defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, they had no idea they were also saying goodbye to the winningest coach in major college football history. But that all changes on Saturday as the home fans will finally have the chance to say thank you. The moment is also important to the players, most of which could only dream about playing for coach Bowden.
“That’s going to be amazing,” senior linebacker Christian Jones said. “Especially with him on the sidelines, it’s going to be like when I was a kid just dreaming about him coaching me when I was in the backyard playing football. It’s going to be awesome.”
Only five players remain from the Bowden Era, and those players understand what it means to play for a legend.
“It’s a great feeling knowing you were there,” senior center Bryan Stork said. “I can tell my kids and my grandkids. I played for coach Bowden, he’s a legend and he was an influence on many many people throughout the years and I’m very honored that I was a part of that last year.”
“Coach Bowden is coach Bowden,” senior defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel said. “When you say that name, I guess I was part of that tradition because he coached me for one season. That season was a memorable season.”
The memories began on the recruiting trail where Bowden was legendary in the way he related to potential Seminoles.
“People trusted him because they saw him through his eyes and the way he communicated with them,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He was genuine and I think that was one of the greatest things he was. He could just talk with you and within two minutes you felt like you’d known him for 20 years.”
“He means well,” said Stork. “He cares more about the player than he does the paycheck. That was a great quality about him. He was a legend and I wanted to come play for a legend.”
“During the recruiting process when the coaches are allowed to go out on the trail coach Bowden told me I was the first recruit of my class that he was to come and visit,” McDaniel said. “That really stood out to me. I didn’t know I was that player, that I was that special.”
Bowden’s final game came at the Gator Bowl where the Seminoles defeated West Virginia and Bowden’s final sendoff came on the shoulders of his players, a memorable moment for all.
“It was neat, it definitely gave me some goosebumps,” Stork said. “There’s a legend who’s been in the game for many many years and to say you were a apart of his team at one point is an honor and not many people can say that.”
Now a new era of Seminoles have helped return Florida State to national prominence and they will have the chance to make the coaches return to Doak Campbell Stadium something no one will ever forget.