When history looks back on the tenure of Bobby Bowden, it will remember three of his teams. The first two are obvious: they are the teams that won a national championship under his guidance, first in 1993 and again in 1999. The third team? By an accident of timing, that team is you – the one that will walk onto the field with him for the last time in a few short weeks.
It hasn’t been the year that any Seminole fan has hoped for. In fact, this year has seen the worst record that any Seminole team has posted in decades. Apart from a few highlights, like the upset of BYU, this season has seen mostly heartbreak and disappointment.
And the biggest disappointment? It’s the way that the administration has treated the man who built this legendary program from almost nothing. It’s as if they forgot that the man coaching this team is the same one to whom they erected a statute outside the field that bears his name. The way this administration has treated Bobby Bowden in the twilight of his career will be a permanent stain on the school, and may do more long-term damage than even a decade of losing seasons could have done.
But you, his players and his coaching staff… you have a chance to make everyone forget, if only for a day, everything that’s gone wrong with this year. You have one game left, a bowl game, probably against an opponent weaker than many others you’ve played this year.
This is your chance to do the one thing you must do: make it the game that Bobby Bowden wants to remember for the rest of his life.
Let your coach feel, just one more time, what it’s like to completely dominate an opponent. Offense, your job is to score 30, 40, even 50 points. You’ve done that once this season – dig deep and do it again. Rain pigskin-covered bombs into the end zone. Stuff five-yard and ten-yard runs down your opponents’ gullet. Break off a few razzle-dazzle plays that our current vocabulary cannot even describe. Make your opponent’s defense show first their fear, and then their acceptance of defeat.
Defense, don’t just stop your opponents; score some points of your own. You should tear through the offensive line like the paper covering the tunnel at the pregame. You should plant the quarterback in the backfield like a tree. You should pick interceptions out of the air like golden apples and convert them into six-point returns.
For this last game, you should bleed for your coach, and you should die for your coach, with nothing left at the end of the game but resounding victory.
In short, Seminoles, you should play like Seminoles.
Because when Bobby Bowden leaves the field of play for the last time, he should look at the scoreboard and forget, for a moment, that it’s no longer 1993. He should go into the tunnel soaked with Gatorade. He should leave, not on his own feet, but on the shoulders of the team he built from scratch, celebrated as the legend he is.
Seminoles, you owe this much to Bobby Bowden. Make him feel, just one more time, like a champion. Play like champions. Just one more time, let Bobby Bowden leave the playing field…