After all, in the three years before Bowden’s arrival in Tallahassee, the Seminoles had won a total of four games. The program was stagnant, characterless, dull. Florida State was a college football backwater. That Bowden was able to take that same program and, by the mid-1990s, turn it into the preeminent power in all of college football—a program so good that it played in a New Year’s Day bowl in 15 straight seasons—is a testament to Bowden’s remarkable vision, drive and coaching skill.
Today, Bowden—who coached at both Samford and West Virginia before arriving at Florida State—is the second-winningest coach in the history of college football. He’s got two national championships and a stadium named in his honor. He’s already been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The 2009 season is his 34th as Florida State’s head coach.
By The Numbers
Bowden boasts an overall record of 388–141–4. His 388 wins are the second-most in college football history, ranking him behind only Penn State's Joe Paterno. At Florida State, Bowden is 315-97-4. He was 42-26-0 at West Virginia and 31-6-0 at Samford.
Bowden boasts an impressive 20-8-1 record in bowl games. Only Paterno, with 23, has more bowl wins. Bowden has two national championships, which came in 1993 and 1999.
Bowden’s Florida State teams have won 10 or more games 18 times, and Bowden has won more games in Tallahassee than the previous seven coaches before him combined.
In his three-decade run at Florida State, Bowden has coached 25 first-team Associated Press All Americans, two Heisman Trophy winners and sent more than 150 players to the NFL.
Florida State reached the pinnacle of its Bowden-era dominance in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the Seminoles became a fixture in the Top 10 and yearly guests in New Year’s Day bowl games. There has never been a stretch of excellence like the one that Bowden engineered between 1991-2005.
In those years, the ‘Noles made 15 straight New Year’s Day bowl appearances. Also during that time, and even more remarkably, Bowden’s teams finished in the Top 5 in 14 straight seasons. No other coach has ever matched that feat.
There’s more, too: During the remarkable run, the ‘Noles played in three straight national championships games (1999-2001) and five in eight years. No team won more games than the Seminoles in the 1990s.
It’s not really a single moment, but the 1999 season at Florida State will go down not only as Bowden’s finest coaching job, but also one of the most impressive seasons in the history of college football. The ‘Noles, led by wide receiver Peter Warrick, entered the season ranked No. 1.
And they never relinquished the spot. No other team in college football history has held the No. 1 spot for the entire season.
In the 2000 Sugar Bowl against Michael Vick and the Virginia Tech Hokies, the ‘Noles delivered a 46-29 win, giving Bowden his second national championship and firmly placing him among the greatest coaches in the history of the game.