Bob Braman is about to embark on the start of his second decade at Florida State University as the third-longest tenured head coach in Seminole athletics. Since succeeding Hall of Famer Terry Long as the head men’s and women’s track & field coach prior to the 2004 season, Braman has seen the Noles ascend to a position of national prominence, highlighted by a pair of NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2006 and 2008.
Braman is entering 17th season at the helm of the men’s and women’s track & field programs – and his 20th leading the men’s cross country team – in the 2019-20 academic year. Along the way the FSU men have carved out 18 top-10 NCAA Championship finishes – nine each, indoors and outdoors – while the women added their seventh top-10 finish (combined) at the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Meanwhile, the men’s cross country team made their 13th NCAA Championships appearance in the last 16 years in the fall of 2018.
Simply put, the Seminoles are synonymous with success on the national stage.
Florida State’s trophy case provides substantial evidence. In addition to the two NCAA Championships – among 12 top-four finishing trophies – the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) bestowed the Seminoles with the John McDonnell Award for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Emblematic of comprehensive excellence, the award goes to the program which posts the highest average NCAA Championships finish from the cross country, indoor and outdoor seasons.
The FSU men placed in the top five in the final McDonnell Award tabulations for six consecutive years (2009-2014) and capped the 2019 season with a sixth-place finish. Not to be outdone, the Florida State women finished sixth or higher for five consecutive years (2009-2013) in the competition for the Terry Crawford Award, signifying comprehensive excellence on the women’s side. The Seminole women placed 10th in the composite standings following the 2019 season.
Over the course of Braman’s career, the Seminole men have lifted the Atlantic Coast Conference championship trophy 22 times, adding their 11th indoor title in 2019 to go along with 11 outdoor title celebrations. Meanwhile, the Noles women collected their fourth ACC outdoor title in 2019 to go along with three indoor titles.
The Florida State women’s resume includes a pair of ACC Triple Crowns, sweeping cross country, indoor and outdoor team titles in 2009 and 2014 under Braman’s watch.
Beyond the team success, the Seminoles have amassed 339 All-American honors between the track & field and cross country programs, producing 40 national champions on the track. In 2011, Ngoni Makusha claimed The Bowerman Award – college track & field’s version of the Heisman Trophy – after claiming NCAA titles in the 100 (he set the collegiate record, 9.89), long jump and 4×100 relay.
Much of FSU’s success can be traced to fielding balanced programs on the track, with national caliber competitors filling the rosters in the sprints, jumps, throws and distance events; a testament to Braman’s philosophy of building a complete program.
FSU’s excellence has allowed Braman to stockpile a total of 44 national, regional and conference Coach of the Year honors. Braman won three consecutive USTFCCCA National Coach of the Year awards (2006-08) for outdoor track & field, 24 ACC Coach of the Year honors and 17 South Region Coach of the Year awards between cross country and the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Through the relentless efforts of the coaching staff under his direction, the Seminole brand extends well beyond the borders. Fifteen athletes who competed collegiately for the Seminoles participated in the 2016 Rio Olympics, marking the third consecutive Summer Games in Braman’s tenure that at least a dozen former Noles were Olympians.
Braman’s Florida State men’s cross country program has reached unprecedented heights, advancing to the NCAA Championships 13 times, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2010 and a fifth-place showing in 2012. To add perspective to those accomplishments, prior to his arrival the Seminoles had just one NCAA Championship appearance and produced two All-Americans.
Seven Seminole men have earned All-American honors under Braman. He also produced the first four All-American women’s honors in FSU’s NCAA era.
Not surprisingly, the Seminoles have been one of the premier programs in the cross country-rich ACC. Prior to his arrival in 2000, the FSU men’s cross country team had not finished higher than seventh in nine ACC Championship meets. Braman matched that all-time best finish in his first season and hasn’t looked back. The Noles have 15 top-five ACC finishes in 19 seasons, highlighted by the program’s first ACC title in 2010. FSU has five runner-up finishes as well.
The Noles have won five NCAA South Region titles, including back-to-back crowns in 2011 and 2012. The 2012 title was the first at Apalachee Regional Park, FSU’s home course, which Braman was instrumental in designing and developing as part of a joint venture between Leon County, the Gulf Winds Track Club and the university. The course will host the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
In addition to his work with the men, Braman also laid the foundation for the women’s cross country program, which he directed from 2000-2006. He guided the women to the first NCAA Championship appearances (2002, 2003 and 2006) in school history.
Prior to his arrival in Tallahassee, Braman enjoyed 17 years of national success at the University of South Florida, where he began his coaching career as the men’s cross country assistant in 1983. He was promoted to head cross country coach in 1985 and launched the women’s program in 1986. When USF began its track program in 1991, Braman assumed head coaching duties for that sport as well.
A Tampa, Fla. native, Braman graduated from the University of Florida in 1980 with a degree in broadcasting. He was a three-year captain of the Florida cross country team and earned All-SEC honors in cross country (1979-80) and indoor track (1979), while setting the school record in the indoor three-mile run.
He is married to the former Debbie Turner. They have two sons, Steven and Tyler, who are Florida State graduates.