TALLAHASSEE, Fla — Heading into their season opener on Sunday, the Florida State Seminoles had one special person in their hearts and on their minds — legendary football coach Bobby Bowden.
Bowden, who led the team for 34 years, died last month at 91 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. But it was clear his presence was felt by the nearly 80,000 people at Doak Campbell Stadium during Sunday's game.
In one particularly moving tribute, the marching band moved in formation to spell out the word "Bobby" while they played an emotional rendition of "Amazing Grace" at halftime.
Video clips of Bowden's time at FSU played over the big screens followed by a "Bobby" chant from the crowd throughout the stadium that's affectionately referred to as "the house that Bobby built."
The Bowden logo, with Bobby's iconic hat and signature, was painted on each 25-yard line opposite the ACC logos along with a tribute banner in the south end zone.
The players also wore helmets with Bobby's signature printed in garnet on the bumper while the coaches wore polos with a patch honoring him.
During his time coaching the Seminoles, Bowden led the team to two national championships, 12 ACC championships, and 14 consecutive seasons listed in the Associated Press' Top Five, according to FSU. The university says he also coached two Heisman Trophy winners and a Rhodes Scholar.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
“Coach Bowden was one of the greatest coaches ever, but more than that he was an incredible man. He was a special human being who earned an enduring legacy because of his wonderful heart, faith and values he lived." Head Coach Mike Norvell said.
Although the Seminoles came up just short of Notre Dame, who won the game 41-38, the 2021 season opener will surely be one to remember.