Wuerffel Trophy National Selection Committee Member Retired From Coaching But Not Slowing Down
How many people do you know that would appear at 2 separate speaking engagements in the same day, over 900 miles apart (San Antonio and Tallahassee) and would deliver the messages like no others?
And be 87 years old?
The only correct answer? Only one: Robert Cleckler Bowden.
Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook was at Coach Bowden’s side from the pre-function VIP Gathering all the way through the banquet, and was smiling all the way with Coach.
Bowden, a member of the Wuerffel Trophy’s National Selection Committee, brought the house down in laughter from the very beginning, when he referenced his wife and something he could never convince her to do.
“In 57 years of coaching, I never could get Ann to chew tobacco,” he quipped.
He talked about the early years at Florida State, as things weren’t so rosy when he got there.
“Our first year we started out 0-3 and got blown out in all of them,” he recalled. “We came home for our first game and believe it or not were tied at halftime. I’d have quit right then if they’d let me.
“We were so bad that first year, we played in 5 homecomings. And none of them were ours!”
But, towards the end of that first season, things began to turn around.
“Southern Miss had us down 28-14 with 10 minutes to play and we scored 3 times and won the game! Everyone had already left. My wife had already gone home. I made her watch the film the next day,” he said.
After all the laughter, Bowden silenced the crowd turning the subject to one’s heart. Not necessarily the thing that pumps blood throughout the body, but one that defines someone’s spirit. The importance of having a good heart.
And then a comical closure talking about former player, William Floyd.
“We were getting ready for practice, and he wasn’t dressed. I asked him what’s wrong and he said, ‘Coach, I’m hurting all over. When I push here (to his head) it hurts. Here (ribs) it hurts. When I push on my knee, it hurts.’ I called the dad gum ambulance and they rushed him to the hospital to run tests.
“Later the hospital called me. I asked them, ‘Is he going to be ok?’
“The doctor said, ‘Coach, he’s got a broke finger.’”