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Bobby Bowden tells tale of true champion
Travis Borchardt
Antelope Staff
Photo from Internet
Photo from Internet

Former Florida State University head football coach Bobby Bowden, the second “winningest” coach in college football history (with a career record of 389-129-4) began his head coaching career at Howard College, now Samford University, in 1959.

So, what is the definition of a champion to Bowden? “A true champion gives everything,” Bowden said, “gives it his all and does it with honor and integrity.”

One of Bowden’s favorite stories comes from his 1982 season, while playing Miami. On fourth and goal, Miami football on the one-yard line going in:

•On the Miami side is legendary quarterback Jim Kelly and future pro football running back Mark Rush.

•On the Florida State side of the ball, ready to meet them and stop the Miami drive, is undersized linebacker Tommy Young.

“Everyone knew Rush would run the ball,” Bowden recalls. “We just didn’t know if he would run left or if he would run right.”

The ball is snapped and Rush went barreling toward the end zone. The defense held strong, so Rush jumped over the top. Seeing this, little Tommy Young ran to meet him.

“This was one of the best hits I have ever seen,” Bowden said. “Young jumped from our side, Rush jumped from theirs, but Young caught him right under the chin and knocked him backwards.”
According to Bowden, “It is not ability, it's reliability.”

A true champion realizes that he/she has got to put the team first to be successful. Tommy Young did not necessarily have the most talent, but he was reliable. And he proved that when it all came to a head on that fourth down in Miami. “Nothing can take the place of persistence,” Bowden said. “There is nothing more common than unsuccessful men with talent.”

Talent alone is nothing; a true champion must also be able to tap into the “it” factor. What is the “it” factor? Perhaps Bowden describes it best when he simply points to his heart. A true champion will give it their all with honor and integrity, always strive to put the team first, but they need to do it with heart.

Bobby Bowden
-Won National Citizenship Award in 2004
-Inducted into College Football Hall of Fame in 2006
-Two time national champion
-Five time national coach of the year
-Second winningest coach behind Joe Paterno

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