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When the torch passes, turf may stay Bowden's

A Senate committee advances a bill to name the Florida State University field after its coach.


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 28, 2000

TALLAHASSEE -- When Florida State University head football coach Bobby Bowden walks off the field for the last time, state lawmakers want him to leave something behind:

His name.

A Senate committee on Monday approved a measure that would rename the FSU turf in honor of Bowden's achievements. The day after he retires, new signs would read "Bobby Bowden Field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium."

Campbell was FSU's first president.

Sen. Pat Thomas, D-Quincy, is sponsoring the bill, which has wide support in the Senate. It does not have a companion measure in the House.

"We come here to ask you to honor the most winning football coach in the country," Thomas told the Senate Education committee Monday.

Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, said he and Thomas tried a few years ago to make the change. But Bowden, 70, didn't want his name on the stadium while he was still coaching.

Recently, Bowden agreed to the name change if it occurred after he retired. Bowden, who is under contract through the 2003 season, has said he has no plans to quit anytime soon.

Bowden, who is preparing to begin his 25th season at Florida State, has put together one of the greatest dynasties in college football history.

His Seminole teams won national titles in 1993 and 1999 and have a 231-53-4 record, winning at least 10 games for the past 13 straight seasons.

Bowden's 304 career victories, including his years at West Virginia and Samford, ranks second among active coaches to Penn State's Joe Paterno, and fifth all-time.

Before voting for the name change Monday, Sen. Buddy Dyer, D-Orlando, asked King whether he was sure about renaming the field for Bowden, and not the stadium itself. Dyer, a University of Florida alumnus, pointed out that his team plays in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field.

But King, an FSU graduate, wasn't about to go along with a Gator.

"We'll probably do it different than that," King replied.

The name change in honor of Bowden wouldn't be the first time that lawmakers wrote their affection for him into state history books.

On March 15, Bowden and his team were honored as national champions in an "FSU Day" ceremony on the House floor. Last year, House Speaker John Thrasher supported a resolution honoring the 50th anniversary of Bowden's wedding to his wife, Ann.

-- Information from staff writer William Yardley and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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