Terry Bowden has made the same dramatic entrance into the broadcasting industry as he did as a head coach in college football. He has quickly become one of the top television and radio analysts in college football while captivating audiences all over the country.
Although Terry Bowden’s bright future is firmly planted in broadcasting, it all began walking the sidelines as a head football coach. Looking back to those years tells you two things about Terry - number one, he’s a winner; and number two, don’t ever underestimate him.
As a college football coach, Bowden was enormously successful, compiling a 15 year record of 111-53-2 and an impressive winning percentage of 68%. As head coach of the Auburn Tigers, he won 73% of his games and posted the best opening five-year run of any head football coach in school history. Prior to becoming head football coach at Auburn, Bowden built two programs from the ground up as head coach at Salem College and Samford University. As the nation’s youngest head coach at age 26, it didn’t take long for winning to become Terry Bowden’s trademark. At Salem, he inherited a football program which had gone 0-9-1 the year before he arrived, but he quickly turned them into a winner.
Salem won the WVIA Conference Championship, its second in 80 years, in Bowden’s second season. It was the first of two straight championships for Bowden and Salem. He won 19 of his last 25 games, led the nation in offense both years and played in the NAIA national playoffs both years. He was an assistant coach at Akron for former Notre Dame head coach Gerry Faust in 1986 before taking the helm at Samford in 1987. Inheriting a Samford program which had won just six games in three years prior to his arrival, Samford was 9-1 his first year, tying the record for the best season in school history.
The Bulldogs led the nation in total offense (523 ypg) and scoring offense (51.7 ppg), both national Division III records. The team’s 40 touchdown passes were also a national season record, but that was only the beginning for Samford and for Terry Bowden. Bowden engineered and directed Samford’s move from Division III non-scholarship football to Division I-AA scholarship football.
With only one freshman class on scholarship, the Bulldogs went to a full Division I-AA schedule in 1989. By 1991, Samford was competing for the national championship. The 1991 Samford team had the best record in school history, 12-2, and made the Division I-AA national semifinals. The Bowden magic was working again. Playing in the shadow of Auburn, Alabama and the Southeastern Conference, Bowden had developed the Samford program into one of the nation’s strongest, most competitive Division I-AA programs. In five years, Samford had successfully made the difficult transition from non-scholarship football to scholarship football, and was competing for titles.
For Terry Bowden, the next step was inevitable. It came on Dec. 17, 1992 when he was named head coach at Auburn. Auburn president Dr. William V. Muse called Bowden the perfect choice to lead Auburn Football into the 21st Century. Terry Bowden’s first bio as head football coach at Auburn began: “At 36, Terry Bowden, one of the youngest coaches in Division I-A football, is poised on the threshold of greatness…” No one knew how close greatness was. Yet, five months after that first bio was written, Terry Bowden had accomplished a feat that no other Division IA coach had ever accomplished. He had gone undefeated and untied in his first year as a Division IA head coach, a perfect 11-0. Bowden swept virtually every national coach of the year award in his rookie season including Walter Camp, Scripps Howard, Football News, Toyota and the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award presented by the Football Writers Association.
He was again a finalist following his second season at Auburn. By the end of his second season on the Plains, the Tigers had reeled off 20 straight wins, an Auburn record. Also during his helm at Auburn, Bowden became the first college coach in 50 years to win his 100th career game by his 40th birthday. As a student-athlete at West Virginia University, he lettered two years as a running back (1977-78), held a 3.65 GPA in accounting, the highest GPA on the football team, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He did post graduate work at Oxford University in England, and earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the Florida State University School of Law in 1982 while a graduate assistant coach at FSU.
He was born into the most famous and successful college football family. His father, Bobby Bowden, turned Florida State into a national champion and is currently the winningest coach in division 1A history. His brother Tommy is the head coach at Clemson, and brother Jeff is the offensive coordinator at Florida State. During the decade of the 1990’s, all three Bowden head coaches led their teams to undefeated seasons - a feat that will likely never be repeated. Terry Bowden certainly did his part to add luster and glory to the first family of college football. In 1998, Bowden left his stellar coaching career behind and made the exciting move into broadcasting.
Terry Bowden has been ultra-successful as a student, an athlete, and a college football coach. He is a much sought after motivational speaker. The qualities that have made him successful throughout his life - enthusiasm, contagious optimism, confidence and work ethic - are the same qualities that he now relies on as a television and radio analyst for college football.
He can be heard daily in central Florida hosting The Terry Bowden Show on ESPN Radio, weekly on “ The Coach’s Show” on Sirius Satellite Radio, weekly during football season as the Color Analyst for Westwood One’s College Football Game of the week, and his articles can be read as the expert football analyst for YahooSports.com.
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2009: A Time for Passionate Leadership (Passion is Back in Fashion)
During these times of economic uncertainty we must find a way to rekindle our passion for the job that we do and the way that we do it. We must catch fire to the audacious notion that… but for my effort, but for my ability, and but for the job that I do, we will not be successful.
Win With Teamwork
Being a winner is not always about having the best players, but having the players that play their best together. Teamwork is the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organized objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. You can throw money at all your problems if you want, but it doesn’t cost one thin dime to motivate each and every person within your organization to be their very best. Ultimately, it’s about getting our eleven to play better than their eleven.
Audacity: The Belief That You Can Accomplish Anything
No leader has ever accomplished anything great without audacity. If a leader is filled with high ambition and he pursues his aims with audacity and strength of will, he will reach them in spite of all obstacles. After our undefeated season at Auburn University in 1993, I asked our football team what they wanted to accomplish in 1994. Every single young man said they wanted to go undefeated again. My first impression was that this was crazy – nobody wins every game two years in a row. Then I thought again. This was not crazy…it was audacity!
Motivating The Benchwarmers
I knew my father (Bobby Bowden, the winningest coach in college football) was going to be a great football coach twenty-five years ago. We were sitting around the Thanksgiving table and he said, “I’m so disappointed that I don’t have any grandsons that I’ve created a trust and I’ve put $100,000 in that trust and I’m going to put that trust in the name of the first one of my children that provides me with a grandson.” Then he said, “Let’s bow for a word of prayer”…and when he looked up….. we were all gone. Now that’s motivation!
You don’t need to motivate that top salesman any more than you do the star running back. Those guys were born to win. If you want to build a winner then you better find a way to inspire the back up lineman, the walk-on, and the guy who never gets off the bench. Those are the guys who are ultimately going to get you over the top. I call it the But For Rule. Getting each and every person in the organization to believe that but for their effort, but for their ability, but for their very job, we can not be successful.
You Can Make A Difference
A man was walking down the beach and noticed that there were thousands of starfish all across the sand that had crawled out of the ocean due to the red tide. Although the water had cleared, the sun was taking its toll and the starfish were drying up and dying. As the man continued to walk down the beach, he noticed that another man walking in front of him was bending over every now and then to pick something up, and each time that he did he got a little closer. Finally, the man caught up with the other fellow and asked what he was doing. The man said that the starfish were dying in the sun and that he was putting them back in the water. “But there are millions of them. What kind of difference do you think you can make?” To that, the man bent over and picked up another starfish, tossed it into the water and said, “Well, I guess I made a difference to that one.”
Each of us has the ability…no, the obligation…to make a difference in the lives of others. So often we want to pat ourselves on the back when we do something special even for our own children. However, true success comes from making a difference in someone else’s child…or more importantly, in a child you don’t even know. I call it planting shade trees under which you’ll never sit.