In Earnest

Posted: September 10, 2004 in Everything

Well, football season begins in earnest tonight. Sure there have already been a bunch of college games that count, pro-football too. The New England Patriots pulled out a great win against the Indianapolis Colts last night, but football really starts tonight!

“What’s happening tonight?” you ask. Florida State goes against the Miami hurricanes in the Orange Bowl (7pm Eastern). Those who know me well, know my great love for Florida State football. They are my team! Growing up on the coast of Mississippi there were two great things to root for: the Atlanta Braves–who were brought to us nightly courtesy of TBS The Superstation–and the closest good college football team, the Florida State Seminoles.

I been with FSU through a lot. We’ve won National Championships together, and we’ve lost them together. I will always remember FSU’s national championship win over Nebraska and unfortunately I will always remember the loss to Oklahoma. The one constant through the ten plus top-ten season finishes for my Seminoles has been head coach Bobby Bowden.

Some people criticize Bobby. They say that his Southern Baptist, grace-orientation allows his players to be too free and they wish he had a tighter clamp on his students. Others say he doesn’t really coach and that he’s really the CEO of the ‘Noles. Still some believe that he’s getting too old to coach a bunch of teenagers and young twenty-something. But I don’t! I love Bobby Bowden! Well, at least as much as you can love someone that you don’t really know and have never spoken with.

I was reminded of my affection for Bowden this last week. As many of you know, the state of Florida has undergone a massive torrent of rain, storms, and hurricanes over the last month. At present, hurricane Ivan is bearing down on Florida. If it hits Florida, it will be the third hurricane to make landfall there in just over three weeks. I can’t imagine the devastation and loss of property and life Floridians have experienced. Bobby Bowden can!

Coach Bowden lost his grandson, Bowden Allen Madden, last week in a hurricane related accident. Bowden Allen and his father–Bobby’s former son-in-law, John Allen Madden–were killed in an auto accident. They were hit broadside by a utility truck on slippery Interstate 10, skidded across the median, and slammed into on-coming traffic. Both were immediately killed. The grandson, Bowden, shared his grandfather’s love of football. The 15 year-old student played center at Chactawhatcee High School.

Unfortunately, it often takes devastating events like hurricanes to help us put life into perspective. I’m not sure how much the Bowden family cares about another win tonight as Bobby quickly approaches the college mark for the most wins. I’m not sure that I care either. I like football, but it is people we care for in earnest. Tonight, I will be once again cheering for Coach Bowden as I have done hundreds of time, but in a different way than I ever have before.

Tonight, not just my hopes, but my heart will go out to the Bowden’s. And regardless of which team you cheer for, I hope your heart goes out to them too. Go ‘Noles!

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