Bobby Bowden is and probably always will be synonymous with Florida State football, which is why the last three seasons have been a little strange.
Bowden hasn't been back to a home game since he was forced out at the end of the 2009 season. That's why the announcement that Bowden will attend two home Florida State games, Oct. 26 against N.C. State and Nov. 16 against Syracuse, was huge news for the school. The press release included excited comments from the school president, athletic director, current Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, the FSU board of trustees chair and the Seminole Boosters president & CEO. Getting Bowden back to a game was obviously a really big deal for the school, and that's understandable.
The polite and oft-stated reason for Bowden's absence is that he didn't want to overshadow Fisher as Fisher built his own program. There's something to that, surely, but it's easy to imagine Bowden kept his distance because he wasn't completely thrilled with how his career came to an end. Bowden said he isn't still upset over how his time at Florida State ended, even though it was a year sooner than he wanted.
Time has passed, and now will be the time for Florida State to have a full-scale celebration for its legendary coach.
Something didn't seem quite complete with Bowden holding out of coming back for a home game. The Nov. 16 game will honor the 1993 national championship team. Surely the thought of doing that celebration without Bowden weighed heavily on Florida State.
Bowden coming back to soak in the cheers he has rightfully earned at Florida State will be a great moment for everyone involved with the program, including for the longtime coach who turned the Seminoles into a powerhouse.
“What Bobby Bowden means to Florida State University cannot be measured or overstated,” FSU president Eric Barron said. “Words like respect, sincerity, class, honesty, charm and humor come to mind, along with his remarkable 33-year stellar record coaching our football team. We look forward with much enthusiasm and excitement to his return to the FSU campus.”