Legendary Coaches: Bobby Bowden

Continuing with quotes from the Legendary Coaches special feature on the We Are Marshall DVD, next up is Florida State Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden

Of all the coaches featured in this DVD spot, I think I transcribed more of Bobby Bowden’s words than any of the others. There’s some great leadership material here. “You gonna have adversity … But you’ve got to overcome it. You’ve got to fight your way through it.” (Bowden)

On the importance of leadership …

When everything else is equal on a football team and the team you’re playing, it’s usually which team has got the best leadership.

On what leaders do …

People wonder what a head football coach does. Really, he’s the guy that sets the program, tells them how the program is gonna work, how are we gonna do it, and then oversees everybody. He doesn’t coach. He coaches the coaches.

It’s the same for pastors. Pastors cast vision, shape the culture, and then oversee (not to be confused with micromanaging) the work. Pastors can’t “coach” everyone; they coach the coaches (that is, they lead the leaders who lead others). Jesus modeled that with the disciples.

On integrity and being a role model …

There used to be an expression when I first started coming up in coaching. It was this, the coach talking to his players: Don’t do like I do. Do as I say do. Then he’d go out and get drunk. (Laughs) That’s not my philosophy, that’s never been my philosophy. My philosophy has always been, when I coach, don’t ask a boy to do something I wouldn’t do. Anything I tell him to do, it’s something that I hope I would do if a coach told me.

Pastors, too, practice what they preach.

On dealing with failure …

You simply are not gonna win all the time. You’re gonna lose some, you know it? And to me, a coach’s success, somebody says: What do you have to do to be a successful coach? I say, You gotta get over the bad times. If you never had adversity, you ain’t gonna be nothing. You have got to have adversity to build your character and find out how tough you are and find out how good your judgment is. A person who’s wealthy, and born wealthy, and never had to work, and everything is handed to him, I don’t know how they keep from being worthless.

You gonna have adversity, you know? There’s gonna be times where you’ll think you do not more deserve to be a football coach than the man in the moon. But you’ve got to overcome it. You’ve got to fight your way through it. You can’t listen to the outside opinion.

Many of the coaches on the DVD feature discussed failure and adversity. Being able to handle adversity is extremely important in life; it’s essential for leaders!

On love …

When I first started coaching back in the 50s, the approach that coaches took to football, a lot of them back then, was to kill. (Laughs) Kill. Kill. Go out there and kill them. Kill them. You gotta be mean. You gotta be rough, you got to physically whip them, all that. And that was kind of them theme back in those days. But now, then, our approach and I think more coaches’, is love. Love. In other words, if my players love each other, they have brotherly love for each other, then they’ll fight for each other. […] That’s why I think love is so important. […] Some coach is gonna go out there and be able to mold his team together as a team better than the others, and he’s gonna win the national championship. If he stays healthy.

Great words on leadership from one of the truly legendary coaches!

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