Parking spaces were hard to find before the football game Saturday, Sept. 25 at Samford University in Birmingham.
I got lucky and finally found a space at the Art Lofts building up the hill from Seibert Stadium. The Bulldogs were warming up on the field before their game against East Tennessee State University.
It was a family weekend. My daughter, Glorian, the third-year pharmacy student, had gotten tickets for me and my wife, Janice. The first thing I noticed when I walked up to the stadium was the Bobby Bowden statue and a sign with the field’s new name, Bobby Bowden Field.
At halftime Samford dedicated its field in the memory of the legendary football coach who had died Aug. 8 at age 91. Bowden, a Birmingham native, had played football at Woodlawn High School before playing at Samford, formerly known as Howard College. As a student-athlete at Samford, Bowden participated in football, baseball and track, earning Little All-American honors as a quarterback in 1952. He graduated in 1953. He was an assistant football coach and head track coach 1954-55 for Samford and served as head football coach from 1959-62. His 31-6 record at Samford ranks first in school football history. He went on to coach at West Virginia and Florida State. His accomplishments include 411 career victories, an FBS Subdivision record 377 wins, two national championships at Florida State (1993 and 1999), 22 bowl wins including an NCAA record 11 consecutive bowl wins (1985-95), 12 Atlantic Coast Conference championships and an NCAA record 14 consecutive 10-win seasons (1987-2000).
Bowden was a 2006 inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame, a 1986 inductee to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, a 1983 inductee to the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, a five-time National Coach of the Year recipient, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year recipient and a three-time Southern Independent Regional Coach of the Year recipient.
Many of his family members attended the halftime ceremony on the field. The game was worthy of this day’s significance. ETSU led 17-13 at halftime and the game was tied 48-48 at the end of regulation. The Buccaneers went on to win 55-48 in overtime.
Coach Bowden would have been proud.