Bobby Bowden at Little Rock Touchdown Club (Part 3) jh24

I really enjoyed hearing Bobby Bowden speak at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on September 12th and I wanted to put one more post up about it.

Below is an article by Harry King on the Bowden talk.

Punch lines on cue from Bowden

Posted on 13 September 2011

By Harry King

LITTLE ROCK — Some of his material could use an update, but Bobby Bowden’s timing and inflection are good enough for an opening act at a comedy club.

The 81-year-old former Florida State football coach evoked lots of yucks at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Monday, although a couple of punch lines were familiar and his story about autographed pictures would have worked just as well in Alabama by subbing Nick Saban’s name for that of Bobby Petrino.

Bowden left me wanting more inside football. He talked briefly about how college realignment is driven by money, how winning football attracts students, and how the 25-scholarship limit plays a big role in the number of upsets. He said he could live without a playoff in college football — “It’s not going to get much better than Oregon-Auburn” — and that he didn’t think it would happen because a large majority of college presidents are against it.

Although Missouri and West Virginia are mentioned most often as possible partners with Texas A&M in a move to the Southeastern Conference, Florida State is often in the speculation. They could have joined Arkansas in the SEC 20 years ago, but chose the Atlantic Coast Conference where Bowden believes they will remain.

“People older like I am like tradition,” he said.

Bowden mentioned how he harped on enthusiasm when he was hired at Florida State in 1976 and how persistence might be the most valuable asset in football. He recalled losing two centers in one game early in the 1980 season and losing to Miami the next week when the snap was fumbled 10 times. A week later, the Seminoles were going to play at No. 3 Nebraska and the only two candidates at center had originally been scheduled to be redshirted.

A 185-pound walk-on won the job over a 235-pound scholarship player. At Nebraska, the Seminoles couldn’t do anything in the first half and trailed 14-3. In the second half, the FSU quarterback rolled out regularly to escape the noseman.

The center, he said, hasn’t blocked the Nebraska noseman yet, but the Seminoles did not have a turnover and the Cornhuskers had four in a loss that put FSU on the map.

His message, often delivered to business owners, is to get dependable people.

Bowden opened the comedy with a story about him speaking to a group of Methodists in Georgia. A Southern Baptist, Bowden was asked by a Methodist minister if he was comfortable addressing the audience.

Sure, Bowden said, adding that the two groups worship a bit differently. Asked again, Bowden said he explained, “Y’all continue to do it your way; we’ll continue to do it His.”

The one about trying to get rid of his 10 complimentary game tickets the first year he was at FSU was more predictable. He accommodated family and neighbors and still had two left. Even the school janitor turned him down so he drove to a mall in Tallahassee, put the tickets on the car windshield, and went for a haircut.

An hour later, he came out and there were six tickets on the windshield.

During the three years prior to Bowden’s arrival, the Seminoles won four games. From 1987 to 2000, FSU finished in the top five in The Associated Press poll.

Under Bowden, Florida State won two national championships. Given my druthers, he would have expounded on those teams and some of his others.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is

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Bobby Bowden at Little Rock Touchdown Club (Part 2)

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