- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Bobby Bowden orchestrated one of the great runs in college football, building Florida State into a powerhouse that produced two national titles, dozens of All-Americans and some of the most memorable missed field goals ever.

Bowden said Tuesday he will end his 44-year coaching career after the Seminoles play in a bowl game. Bowden was done in by a combination of off-field woes, too many defeats and coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher ready to take over.

“Nothing lasts forever, does it?” a relaxed-looking Bowden asked during video interview conducted by school officials. “But I’ve had some wonderful years here at Florida State, you know it. Hadn’t done as good lately as I wish I could have, but I’ve had wonderful years. No regrets.”

The 80-year-old Bowden will retire as the second-winningest coach in major-college football behind Penn State’s Joe Paterno. The folksy coach has won 388 games at Samford, West Virginia and Florida State, where he spent the last 34 seasons.

Bowden was faced with the option of coming back next season with diminished control over the program, giving Fisher more power.

“We’ve got one more game, and I look forward to enjoying these next few weeks as the head football coach,” Bowden said earlier in a statement released by the school.

The Seminoles are bowl eligible at 6-6 and were awaiting word on where they will play. They’re also awaiting word from the NCAA on whether 14 victories in recent seasons will be vacated because of an academic cheating scandal.

Bowden won national titles at Florida State in 1993 and 1999. Among his top achievements is a string of 14 straight seasons ending in 2000 when the Seminoles won at least 10 games and finished ranked in the top five of the AP poll. Florida State was 152-19-1, an .864 winning percentage, during that span. He has a 315-97-4 record with the Seminoles, but his teams were 73-42 the past nine seasons.

“He set records of achievement on the field that will probably never be equaled,” Florida State president T.K. Wetherell said. “Bobby Bowden in many ways became the face of Florida State. It was his sterling personality and character that personified this university.”

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