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Bobby Bowden's Final Victory Game
2010 Gator Bowl
Jacksonville, Florida
January 1, 2010

 
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden waves to the crowd is carried on the shoulder's of his players after the Seminole's 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game on Jan., 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo / The Florida Times-Union, Rick Wilson)
 
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, left, shakes hands with running back Jermaine Thomas during the third quarter of the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game against West Virginia after Thomas scored a touchdown, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla.  Florida State won 33-21, in Bowden's last game. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)
  Bowden lifted by players speaks to press and the crowd.

  Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, left, shakes hands with running back Jermaine Thomas during the third quarter of the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game against West Virginia after Thomas scored a touchdown, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla. Florida State won 33-21, in Bowden's last game. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)
 
  Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, right, and head coach Bobby Bowden, left, look on during the third quarter of the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game against West Virginia, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla.  Florida State won 33-21.  After the game Bowden is retiring and Fisher will become the new head coach.(AP Photo/Phil Coale)

Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden holds up the trophy after their 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game, on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla.(AP Photo/Phil Coale)
 
  Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden delivers a prayer in the locker room prior to the start of the Gator Bowl against West Virginia on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville.

Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden delivers a prayer in the locker room prior to the start of the Gator Bowl against West Virginia on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville.
  Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, left, visits with former Seminole football player and North Fort Myers alum Deion Sanders in the locker room prior to the Gator Bowl against West Virginia on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville.   Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel throws a second-quarter pass as West Virginia defensive back Franchor Allen attempts to make the tackle during the Gator Bowl on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville.
  Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, left, visits with former Seminole football player and North Fort Myers alum Deion Sanders in the locker room prior to the Gator Bowl against West Virginia on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville.
 
  Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel throws a second-quarter pass as West Virginia defensive back Franchor Allen attempts to make the tackle during the Gator Bowl on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville.
  West Virginia running back and North Fort Myers alum Noel Devine, left, tries to elude Florida State safety Jamie Robinson during the second quarter of the Gator Bowl on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville.   Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, right, applauds his defense during the third quarter of the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game against West Virginia, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla.  Florida State won 33-21.(AP Photo/Phil Coale)
  West Virginia running back and North Fort Myers alum Noel Devine, left, tries to elude Florida State safety Jamie Robinson during the second quarter of the Gator Bowl on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville.   Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, right, applauds his defense during the third quarter of the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game against West Virginia, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla. Florida State won 33-21.(AP Photo/Phil Coale
 
  Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel holds up the Most Valuable Player trophy following the Seminoles 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)   Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden holds up the trophy after their 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game, on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo / Orlando Sentinel, Stephen M. Dowel)
 
Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel holds up the Most Valuable Player trophy following the Seminoles 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game, Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

 
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden holds up the trophy after their 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl NCAA college football game, on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo / Orlando Sentinel, Stephen M. Dowel)


Go Noles!


Bowden, Seminoles Win
Gator Bowl Grand Finale



 

Gator Bowl: Hundreds
offormer Seminoles at
Bowden’s finale



There was no way Warrick Dunn would miss this.

Neither would Deion Sanders, Derrick Brooks, Leroy Butler or Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.

This was their tribute to the man many of them saw as a father figure.

Hundreds of former Seminole stars, some now gray and others with midriff paunches that belied their glory days, gathered Friday to watch Bobby Bowden close out one of college football’s greatest coaching careers with a 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

“You can’t replace being here by watching it on TV or something,” Dunn said. “That’s something I’ll cherish the rest of my life.”

More than 350 of Bowden’s bunch turned up, many of them chiseled into Florida State lore. Some harkened from his time at West Virginia, where Bowden coached a decade before coming to Tallahassee.

Almost to the man they believe Bowden influenced their success on and off the field.

Dunn, one of Bowden’s favorites, showed up in the fall of 1993 after his mom, a single mother, had been shot and killed in Baton Rouge, La.

“He was the next consistent figure in my life,” said Dunn, who hugged Bowden on the sideline as the final seconds ticked off the huge scoreboard. “He just told me his door is always open if I ever need him, and I did. To this day I call him and can talk to him about anything.”

One of the toughest players to play for the Seminoles in the Bowden era, former San Francisco 49ers fullback William Floyd, was among many who had difficulty talking about the 80-year-old coach without choking up.

“He’s been like a dad to me, really the first father figure I had coming up,” said Floyd, whose bone-crushing blocking protected Heisman Trophy quarterback Charlie Ward during Florida State’s first national championship season in 1993. “He had an open door policy and I used it.”

Sanders just wanted to be sure Bowden was OK about retiring a year earlier than originally planned.

“I hugged him and I looked him in his eyes and I said, ’Tell me you’re OK.’” Sanders said Friday. “I want to hear right now that you are OK. And he said ’I’m OK.’ And we started reminiscing about the old times.”

Many former players attended Florida State practices in Jacksonville leading up to the game.

“It’s very emotional,” said Keith Jones, a member of Bowden’s first recruiting class at Florida State.

“Certainly he wanted to come back another year,” he said, his eyes moistening. “But once the decision is made, Bobby moves on. He never looks back, he always moves forward.”



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