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Why FSU legend Bobby Bowden still means so much to Jimbo Fisher

“People don’t realize he and I are very close,” Fisher said Wednesday. Bowden and Fisher go back almost 40 years.
Jimbo Fisher knew Bobby Bowden long before they worked together at Florida State.
Jimbo Fisher knew Bobby Bowden long before they worked together at Florida State. [ WILL VRAGOVIC | St. Petersburg Times ]
Published Jul. 22

HOOVER, Ala. — When Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher spoke passionately about Florida State legend Bobby Bowden’s terminal illness Wednesday, he wasn’t speaking as one of Bowden’s former assistants, or as his Seminoles successor. He was speaking as a long-time family friend.

“People don’t realize he and I are very close,” Fisher said during SEC media days.

They’re very close because they go back long before Fisher joined Bowden’s FSU staff, and long before the Seminoles forced Bowden out and replaced him with Fisher.

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Fisher played quarterback under Bowden’s son, Terry, at Salem and then Samford in the mid-’80s. He stayed at the Bowdens’ home in Tallahassee. He watched practices and sat in meetings.

Reflecting on it at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham stage Wednesday, Fisher pointed out how he and Bowden were both All-American quarterbacks at Samford (known as Howard during Bowden’s playing career). Fisher’s first game as FSU coach? A win over Samford.

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher addressed reporters Wednesday during SEC media days.
Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher addressed reporters Wednesday during SEC media days. [ BUTCH DILL | AP ]

“Our lives and the Bowden family have intertwined so much,” Fisher said.

They still intersect. Fisher said he and Bowden talk on the phone periodically and had a long chat a few weeks ago.

Fisher said Wednesday that his 91-year-old mentor and his family “meant everything” to him through their support over the years. Fisher is usually labeled as a Nick Saban lieutenant because of their time together at LSU, but Fisher said his days with Bowden were even more transformative.

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“My whole background and everything I ever started … still reside with Coach Bowden and Florida State and the things he meant to us,” Fisher said.

“It’s very sad, but at the same time, he’s lived a tremendous, tremendous life and affected a lot of great people.”

Including Fisher.

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