Bobby Bowden doesn’t miss coaching. But he misses the boys.
Which helps explain why the 84-year-old Bowden was in Oklahoma City on Monday night. Almost five years removed from coaching Florida State football, Bowden remains connected to “the boys” through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization he discovered in 1963 and has held his interest ever since.
“As I was coaching, I could really see the need,” Bowden said Monday before the 40th annual Oklahoma FCA banquet. “I’ve got 100 boys there, and half of ‘em haven’t got a daddy. It was very obvious to me what’s missing in our society. I could see where FCA could help close that gap.
“So I always told my coaches, hey look, you might be as close to a dad as these guys ever get. They don’t know what a daddy is. We need to be responsible for that. So I saw the need, and I love it. After 57 years of coaching, I ought to be able to help, you know.”
FCA is celebrating its 60th anniversary. Oklahoma FCA state director John O’Dell called Bowden two years ago, asking if he’d speak at the 2014 Oklahoma banquet. Bowden said just say the date.
“He’s passionate about FCA,” O’Dell said of Bowden. “He’s passionate about Christ. He still has a great passion for kids and coaches.”
Bowden coached Florida State from 1976-2009, leading the Seminoles to national titles in 1993 and 1999. His teams at Samford, West Virginia and Florida State won 389 games.
Bowden was forced out at Florida State at age 80. He didn’t return to a Seminole game until this past season.
Bowden said he went back “because they asked me … I hadn’t been to a game since I left. It’s not because I’m mad at ‘em. It’s because I’d rather watch on television than be at the game. I don’t like to get in all that crowd. I can’t watch the game.”