Legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is easily one of the most recognized names among sports heroes. Known as the "winningest coach in college football", Coach Bowden famously took the Florida State Seminoles, a team struggling to survive, and turned it into a national power in a short period of time.
Coach Bowden's legacy of leadership, faith, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds is the subject of a new movie, The Bowden Dynasty: A story of Faith, Family & Football, premiering January 8th.
Produced by John Corry - a 1984 Florida State graduate - along with Rob Harvell and Brian Goodwin (ESPN Films' The Book of Manning and I Hate Christian Laettner), the documentary examines Coach Bowden's childhood and rise to coaching greatness during the dynasty years from 1987-2000. During this time, the Florida State Seminoles enjoyed 14 consecutive "Top 4" seasons, winning two national championships and nine bowl games in a row.
"Faith is the most important thing in my life," Coach Bowden told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. "I was raised a Christian, I had a Christian mother and father who took me to church every Sunday morning and night, and every time the doors opened me and my sister had to go. I was raised with that background. The name Jesus and God weren't surprises to me; I was raised with that as the most important thing in the world."
Coach Bowden, who spent 44 seasons as a college football head coach, with an impressive 377-129-4 record at Samford, West Virginia and Florida State, is quick to point heavenward when asked about his success. In fact, he credits his longtime faith for making the Seminoles football program one of the best in the nation.
"To be successful, I would tell aspiring football and coaches to get their priorities in order - don't just go through life, establish your priorities," he said. "What is your priority in life? The way I always taught it is, number one is God. Number two is your family, and number three is other people - putting them ahead of yourself - that's hard to do. If you put your priorities in this order, you will be successful in life."
He added, "I've learned that, as you go through life, there's a lot of stumbling blocks, and you don't know what to do. I think your faith in God and your faith in Christ helps you get you over these hard times by trying to do the right thing."
As evidenced by the testimonies in The Bowden Dynasty, the coach's love for Christ translated into the way he approached his players: "All of the teams I coached might have anywhere from 50-120 boys on the team, and to be honest with you, you're just like a daddy to those boys," he said. "So many of them didn't have a daddy to start with. I'd tell my coaches, 'We've got to be a dad to those boys, because a lot of them don't have a dad.' And so, it's what you inherit, and that's the great challenge you love."
Despite his tremendous success, the 87-year-old Birmingham, Alabama native is strikingly humble: "Sure, I was able to coach football for decades and decades, but my biggest accomplishment isn't wins, it's being married 58 years to the same woman," he said with a laugh. "We can all relate to that, can't we?
Debuting live in theaters nationwide from the NCAA Football National Championship in Tampa, Florida, The Bowden Dynasty features an all-star cast including Fred Biletnikoff, the Bowden Family, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Johnson, Jim Kelly, Burt Reynolds, Nick Saban, Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, Peter Warrick, and more.
"It was wonderful to have all of these friends come together to help tell my story," Coach Bowden said. "That is not something I planned - it's not something I did - that's something John Corry worked out. And, Florida State University gave me the platform that I have to make a documentary like this - if it hadn't given me the opportunity to coach for decades, I wouldn't have the background I needed to do this documentary."
In a culture obsessed with achieving success by any means possible, Coach Bowden says he hopes the upcoming documentary inspires viewers to live a life of integrity, faith, and perseverance.
"I hope people can look at my life say, 'Hey, you can do it right and still be successful,'" he told GH. "You don't have to cheat and take shortcuts and buy your way through - if you'll just do it right, just do it the way you think God would want you to do it, I believe things are going to work out real nice."
To get involved and view the trailer visit www.BowdenDynasty.com