‘It was delightful to be a part of that’: CBS Sports’ Danielson remembers Bowden’s curtain call in Jacksonville
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Of all 377 of Bobby Bowden’s wins recognized by the NCAA, few hold more significance than the win on New Year’s Day 2010, when Bowden rode off into the sunset.
Florida State took down West Virginia, 33-21, in the Gator Bowl.
In their booth above the field of then Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson had heard whispers that Chief Osceola would hand off his spear to the 2010 Gator Bowl’s guest of honor.
But, Danielson never could have expected the emotions of the moment.
”At that point, Verne has his hand on my arm and that’s a signal to say, ‘Shut up [Gary Danielson], this is a good scene,’ and Verne was always right about those things for sure, but Bobby meant so much to Verne as he did to all of college football,” Danielson recalled.
After announcing his retirement, Bowden had but one request about his final game: That it be played in the Sunshine State.
What resulted was a trip to the Gator Bowl against the former squad of the legendary coach, West Virginia.
”We’re going through the warm-ups and I look over and West Virginia’s team’s over there and the entire team is watching Coach Bowden and every move he makes,” remembered Rob Wilson, with FSU Athletics. “West Virginia players and looking at you and they’d be in line to do a receiving drill and glance over to look at Coach Bowden it was that kind of, they felt kinda privileged they got to play him in his last game.”
Danielson added, ”All the people involved with everything that happened that last season and the difficulty of all of it, the person that handled it best of all of it was Coach Bowden and that probably shouldn’t be a surprise.”
But as Bowden’s team did as they had done so many times in his 34 years, charging back as underdogs against seemingly insurmountable odds. The sun began to shine and petty arguments were put aside to honor college football royalty.
”All the people involved with everything that happened that last season and the difficulty of all of it, the person that handled it best of all of it was Coach Bowden and that probably shouldn’t be a surprise,” Wilson said.
”To put the stamp on the end of it, to win his last game and have so many Florida State fans there and so much of the country pulling for him. It was delightful to be a part of that,” Danielson said.
It wasn’t for a national title or a perfect season, but what Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles did that day on the banks of the St. John’s River meant everything to a fan base and a legend whose name will live forever.
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