Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Legendary FSU football coach Bobby Bowden in hospital due to COVID-19

Bobby Bowden, the second winningest coach in the history of major college football, was transported by ambulance to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare on Tuesday afternoon as he deals with COVID-19.

On Monday, Bowden told the Tallahassee Democrat that he originally tested positive for the virus two days earlier. Bowden returned home last Thursday after a nearly two-week hospital stay due to a leg infection following the removal of cancer spots. He turns 91 next month.

Bowden’s wife, Ann, said that her husband’s readmission to the hospital was a precautionary measure, as the legendary Florida State head coach has been experiencing weakness and fatigue. He is the only member of his family to test positive.

“I feel sure he’s going to be OK,” Ann Bowden said. “I am very positive. I am not an alarmist. He hasn’t been getting around much at all due to his leg; it has been pretty painful. He sleeps much of the day.”

Bowden said on Monday that he felt fine and had not yet exhibited any symptoms of the virus. Sue Hall, Bowden’s longtime administrative assistant, encouraged Seminoles fans to pray for Bowden.

“He’s a very religious person and he believes in the power of prayer,” Hall said.

Many former players, coaches, opponents and fans took to social media in support of Bowden.

Bowden has long been outspoken about his unwavering faith in Christ. He talked to Sports Spectrum in 2014 about how he felt God’s guiding hand throughout his coaching career.

“I have faith in God and my Savior is Christ. I’m a Christian. I talked to my kids about that — the kids I was coaching. I always felt that they were like my sons,” he said, later adding, “My advice to everyone is to get yourself straight with the Lord and be prepared for the next world. Then you will be a lot happier in this world. The Bible tells us that.”

Mark Richt, a graduate assistant under Bowden at Florida State from 1985-1988, has credited Bowden with bringing him to Christ in 1986. In 2018, Bowden defended a coach who was fired for praying with his team.

While he was still coaching, Bowden told the Christian Broadcasting Network that his faith in God helps him to put his job in perspective.

“When I put everything in God’s hands, I don’t have to worry about anything,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about winning ballgames. I want to. I want to win as much as anybody does, but I don’t have to worry about this. I know that when I die, I live eternally with my God, so the pressure’s off!”

Bowden accumulated a total of 411 wins during a head-coaching career which began in 1956 at South Georgia State College and ended in 2009 at Florida State. He took over the Seminoles program in 1976 following six seasons at West Virginia.

The college football Hall of Famer won two national titles in Tallahassee (1993, 1999), coached two Heisman Trophy winners (Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke), was the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year in 1980, and is perhaps the most notable college football figure to contract COVID-19.

Please join us in praying for Coach Bowden as he continues to battle the virus’ effects.

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