JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One day before legendary coach Bobby Bowden was scheduled to lie in honor at the state capitol, Seminole fans gathered in Jacksonville to prepare for the upcoming season and remember the late head coach.
In the annual kickoff meeting, this year held at Deerwood Country Club, dozens of Florida State boosters shared memories and a meal.
Among the speakers, longtime Voice of the Seminoles Gene Deckerhoff, who called most of Bowden’s games on the radio, said that Bowden’s legacy is unique and will never be duplicated.
“If Bobby Bowden did not have an impact on you, you’re a stone statue in a park in the middle of town,” Deckerhoff said. “Bobby influenced everybody he met and I don’t think Bobby ever met an enemy. There is only one enemy Bobby had in his life and that guy is down there and he’s called the Devil. Bobby made friends with everybody. He remembered people, and it was more than just football.”
On Thursday night, Boosters at the meeting signed a Seminoles’ flag to be sent to the Bowden Family. A silent auction included Bowden autographed photos, helmets and footballs. There were stories of Bowden’s humor, kindness and, of course, his success in coaching.
“Bobby was a man of faith, a good Christian who loved his players,” Deckerhoff said. “If you look at teams that are successful, I think most teams that are very successful, they have players that want to play for their coach, and they love their coach. And that was the story of Bobby Bowden.”
Deckerhoff noted that Bowden was so open and accessible that you could find his name and number in the Tallahassee phone book.
“That’s the only head coach that I know in any sport whose phone number is published,” Deckerhoff said
And with a line that Bowden would have enjoyed, Deckerhoff joked that one of Bowden’s most famous plays would have been the subject of conversation in the great beyond.
“Bobby Bowden died at eight minutes after five o’clock on Aug. 8, in the morning. At nine minutes after five o’clock on Aug. 8 Bobby was drawing up the punt-rooskie for St Peter because St Peter wanted to know how’d you pull out that one over Clemson.”