Bobby Bowden has pancreatic cancer, son Terry Bowden says

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Terry Bowden, son of Hall of Fame college football coach Bobby Bowden, said on Thursday that his father is suffering from pancreatic cancer and is “doing as well as expected” given the family’s recent announcement that his condition is terminal.

“The news came out” [Wednesday]but we’ve known about it for about 10 days,” the head coach of the University of Louisiana at Monroe told reporters on Thursday at the SunBelt media day in New Orleans. We’ve been preparing for this. We know when you have pancreatic cancer, what the disease is, you’re probably talking about months, not years, so we already know that. We just think we’ve got a few good days ahead of us, and we’re going to enjoy that together.

“I would argue that all people should respect the fact that he must rest when he is awake,” added Terry Bowden. “He doesn’t need a lot of phone calls, or a lot of people talking on the phone. You know my dad, he’s never turned down an interview in his life. He’ll be on his deathbed [doing] an interview at the last minute he does it. But that’s Bobby Bowden.”

The elder Bowden, who coached the state of Florida for 34 seasons before retiring in 2009, released a statement through the school on Wednesday stating that he had been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition.

“I’ve always tried to serve God’s purpose for my life, on and off the field, and I’m prepared for what’s to come,” Bowden said in a statement. “My wife Ann and our family have been the greatest blessing of life. I am at peace.”

Bowden, 91, is the second most winning coach in Division I history with 357 wins. His teams won national championships in 1993 and 1999.

Current Florida State head football coach Mike Norvell opened Thursday’s session on ACC media days by paying tribute to Bowden.

“Because of the impact he has made, because of the man he is, the coach who changed a university and a place forever, [he’s] just a great example,” said Norvell, who is entering his second season with the Seminoles. “I am so grateful for the opportunity and the relationship I have and have been able to form with Coach Bowden. … As he rests there at home, just to know that we’re thinking of you and just so grateful for the impact you’ve made and continue to make because of who you are.”

Bowden faced a “severe” bout of COVID-19 in October, coming a few days after returning to his home in Tallahassee from a lengthy hospital stay for an infection in his leg. He was also hospitalized for five days in late June, telling the Democrat in Tallahassee earlier this month, “I feel fine, but there’s not much I can do.”

Bowden coached West Virginia from 1970 to 1975 before taking the Florida state job in 1976. He built the Seminoles into a national force, winning 12 ACC championships and national titles in 1993 and 1999. Bowden was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

“Coach Bowden built a football dynasty and raised Florida State University’s national profile, and he did it with dignity, class and sense of humor,” university president John Thrasher said in a statement. “While his achievements on the pitch are unparalleled, his legacy will go far beyond football. His faith and family have always come first and he is an incredible role model for his players and fans alike. FSU family.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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