Bowden doesn't miss game

Ex-coach can empathize with Bulldogs' Richt

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Bobby Bowden knows all too well what Georgia coach Mark Richt is facing this coming season.

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Bowden, talking with Kathy Stitt (left) and Hal Edwards, says he misses 'being with the boys' but not the pressure of being a head coach at a college power.   Corey Perrine/Staff
Corey Perrine/Staff
Bowden, talking with Kathy Stitt (left) and Hal Edwards, says he misses 'being with the boys' but not the pressure of being a head coach at a college power.

The Bulldogs football coach and Bowden's former offensive coordinator at Florida State, is on the hot seat entering his 11th season in Athens, Ga.

"He's just like the rest of us," Bowden said. "He's got to win games."

Bowden was the keynote speaker at the Augusta Sports Council's Greater Augusta Medals for Excellence in Sports (G.A.M.E.S.) gala Wednesday night. Local high school and college athletes from the area were honored.

Bowden spent 44 seasons as a head coach, finishing with a 377-129-4 record -- second only to Penn State's Joe Paterno among major college coaches in wins. Bowden helped the Seminoles make the transition to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1992, when Florida State soon established itself as one of the nation's premier programs. The Seminoles won or shared nine consecutive ACC titles, and they also captured two national championships.

The 81-year-old Bowden, who retired after the 2009 season and still lives in Tallahassee, Fla., remains busy with speaking engagements and has visited countries like Iraq and Israel. Bowden, along with Mark Schlabach, also wrote Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith and Football last year. When he's not speaking or promoting his book, Bowden plays golf.

"I don't care to just go down to the beach and sit," he said. "I do not miss coaching. I do not miss being out on the field. I do miss being with the boys."

Bowden doesn't miss the pressure-cooker status of college football these days either. His son, Tommy, failed to win an ACC -- or a national -- championship in 10 seasons at Clemson and was eventually forced out. Now, Richt who has won 96 games and two Southeastern Conference titles (the last coming in 2005), faces the same scrutiny.

"Tommy finished second in the league, he won bowl games, he beat his main rival most of the time, but he didn't win a (national) championship," Bowden said. "His last year, they said he's got to win a championship. Boy, what are those odds? I can see Mark facing the same thing. It's not fair. There's not but one team all over the nation that can win it anyway. But that's what it's come down to."

Bobby Bowden won a pair of national titles in 1993 and 1999. Still he laments the ones that got away.

"We should have won a bunch of national championships," he said. "I wish I could've done a better job there during that time. But I have no complaints about what happened."

G.a.m.e.s. winners

ADAPTIVE ATHLETE: Cole Wooten

AMATEUR STAR: Steven Baldowski, Archery

COLLEGIATE ATHLETE: Franck Ndongo, Augusta State University

ALL-AROUND FEMALE ATHLETE

Gold: Mykala Jones, Laney

Silver: Ebony Wells, Grovetown

Bronze: Jessica Ray, Aiken

ALL-AROUND MALE ATHLETE

Gold: Rod Hall, Laney

Silver: Sam Few, Aquinas

Bronze: Conrad Wilburn, Josey

OUTSTANDING FEMALE ATHLETE

Gold: Anna Bowles, Lakeside

Silver: Savanah Coon, Greenbrier

Bronze: Annie Speese, Westminister

OUTSTANDING MALE ATHLETE

Gold: Matt NeSmith, North Augusta

Silver: Tyler Martin, Augusta Christian

Bronze: Andrew Faulkner, South Aiken

RISING FEMALE STAR: Malia Kency, Grovetown

RISING MALE STAR: Joe Ardrey, Richmond Academy

OUTSTANDING COACH: Malynda Young, Aiken

OUTSTANDING TEAM: Aiken Lady Hornets volleyball

BOYS SCHOLARSHIP: Tyler Martin, Augusta Christian

GIRLS SCHOLARSHIP: Jessica Ray, Aiken


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