Bowdens touched by Marshall movie

The film about the deadly 1970 plane crash has personal resonance.

Published December 20, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and wife Ann spent Sunday afternoon in front of the television set watching a riveting reproduction of the past.

"I thought it was a darn good movie. It was big time," he said after screening an advance copy of the film We Are Marshall. "Nearly everybody who's seen it has shed some tears. I did. They just rolled out."

The film, which has a nationwide release Friday, tells the story of the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash that killed 75 people, including 37 members of the Marshall football team.

Bowden was in his first season as head coach at West Virginia, the big school in the state that didn't play Marshall but, in some cases, did battle it for recruits. Bowden has a part in Marshall's return from the ashes.

He helps new Marshall coach Jack Lengyel portrayed by Matthew McConaughey and his assistant Red Dawson (Matthew Fox), a former FSU receiver who had Bowden as his position coach in Tallahassee and wasn't on the plane that day in 1970, understand the veer offense he ran at West Virginia so they could implement it.

"I had met Jack - I'm sure it was before that - at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp down in Jackson Mill," Bowden said. "We would go down there every year with the FCA. Him and his children came and me and my boys. ... we got along good."

Bowden's connection to Marshall didn't end there.

Eerily enough.

In 1969, Marshall asked Bowden to take over a struggling program that had been rocked by NCAA violations (under a former Florida State coach, Perry Moss) and was placed on one year of probation. Bowden turned it down, and Rick Tolley was hired ... and was on that plane in 1970.

"For some reason," Bowden said as he pondered what might have been, "I didn't take the job."

Changing of the guard

Freshman point guard Josue Soto, who seemingly was heading for a redshirt season, played for the first time Monday night against High Point.

As the third point guard, behind sophomore Toney Douglas and junior Ralph Mims, Soto played four minutes and had one rebound. Coach Leonard Hamilton declined to elaborate on the decision to forgo a redshirt.

Time change

FSU's game against St. Peter's on Saturday, originally scheduled for 2 p.m., was moved up to noon to accommodate a last-minute change in the flight for St. Peter's.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or at (813) 226-3347.