College football: Terry Bowden named head coach at ULM

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ULM Sports Information 

MONROE – Terry Bowden, who has compiled a career record of 175-114-2 (.605) in 25 seasons as a collegiate head coach, has been named head football coach at ULM, according to an announcement made Wednesday, Dec. 23 by Athletics Director Scott McDonald.

Details of the contract are still being finalized, and Bowden’s hiring is pending approval by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.

Bowden has spent the last two seasons as an offensive analyst on Dabo Swinney’s staff at Clemson. The Tigers have reached the College Football Playoff in each season, including a 10-1 record and ACC Championship in 2020. The Tigers rank fourth in FBS in scoring offense (44.9 points per game) and 11th in total offense (507.6 yards per game). Clemson claimed the ACC crown and reached the College Football Playoff Championship in 2019 while ranking fourth in FBS in scoring offense (43.9 ppg.) and fifth in total offense (528.7 ypg.).

“We’re extremely excited to welcome Terry Bowden to our Warhawk family as head football coach,” McDonald said. “He brings a winning pedigree to our program. He has won at all levels of college football, beginning as the youngest head coach in the country in his first job at Salem College and continued that through his tenure at Samford and Auburn, where he consistently competed for SEC Championships. He followed with success at North Alabama and at Akron, where he led the Zips to their first bowl victory in school history.”

“First of all, I want to thank President Dr. Ron Berry and Athletics Director Scott McDonald for giving me this opportunity to coach at ULM,” Bowden said. “I got introduced to ULM back after the 2015 season when a contingent flew up to Akron and talked to me about the job. They did a great job of selling me on the potential of this program and the commitment they had to turning it around. Although the timing just wasn’t quite right, I did remember feeling that with my success at places like this, and my desire to get back down South to a college town very much like Auburn and Clemson, that this was a perfect place for me to be. I felt then that I was the best guy they could find to build a winner at ULM and I still do.”

Bowden helped revitalize an Akron program that was 2-22 over the two seasons prior to his arrival. In 2015, Bowden led the Zips to an 8-5 record and a second-place finish in the MAC East as the program recorded its first winning season and bowl appearance since 2005. The Zips knocked off Utah State 23-21 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to claim the program’s first bowl victory as an FBS member, dating back to 1987. The eight wins were the most for Akron since joining the FBS.

In 2017, Bowden led Akron to its first MAC Championship game appearance since 2005 and just the second appearance in program history as the Zips appeared in their second bowl game in three seasons and just the third in program history.

Thirty players earned All-MAC honors over his seven seasons at Akron.

Prior to Akron, Bowden spent three seasons at North Alabama, where he led the Lions to a 29-9 record and three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. He was named 2009 Gulf South Conference Co-Coach of the Year after his squad posted an 11-2 record, won the GSC championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

During his time away from coaching, Bowden spent 10 years as a studio analyst and color commentator with ABC Sports’ college football coverage, working in studio in Times Square. He was an analyst for the College Football National Game of the Week on Westwood One radio, co-hosted “The Coaches Show” on Sirius Satellite Radio with Jack Arute and was the exclusive college football columnist for Yahoo! Sports.

Bowden was named head coach at Auburn on Dec. 17, 1992, and found immediate success with the Tigers. In 1993, Auburn tallied a perfect 11-0 record and Bowden swept nearly every National Coach of the Year award, including Walter Camp, Scripps Howard, Football News, Toyota and the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, presented by the Football Writers Association. He was the first coach in Division I-A (now FBS) history to go 11-0 in his inaugural season. He won the first 20 consecutive games of his tenure.

Bowden was once again a coach of the year finalist after his second season on The Plains after the Tigers had rattled off 20-straight wins, which still stands as an Auburn record, and finished 9-1-1.

Bowden finished his stint at Auburn is a 47-17-1 record, which is the best opening five-year run in school history. While at Auburn, he became the first collegiate coach in 50 years to win his 100th career game before his 40th birthday.

Before heading to Auburn, Bowden spent six years at Samford, helping the Bulldogs transition from NCAA Division III to Division I-AA (now FCS). He inherited a program that had won just six games over the previous three seasons. In his first season in 1987, Bowden led Samford to a 9-1 record, tying the best record in school history. The 1987 team led the nation in total offense (523 yards per game), scoring offense (51.7 points per game) and passing touchdowns (40), which set national Division III records.

His 1989 Bulldog squad faced a full I-AA schedule with just one freshman class on scholarship, but by 1991, the team was in contention for the national championship, with a school-record 12-2 season and reached the I-AA national semifinals.

Bowden was the nation’s youngest head coach at age 26 when he accepted his first head coaching job, at Salem (W. Va.) College in 1983. He took over a team that finished 0-9-1 the season prior to his arrival, and promptly guided the program to two conference championships in three seasons.

Bowden is a member of one of the most well-known and successful college football coaching families. His father, Bobby Bowden, transformed Florida State into a national championship program and earned 377 collegiate victories, ranking second in Division I history. His brother Tommy was 18-4 in two seasons as head coach at Tulane before going 72-45 over 10 seasons as head coach at Clemson, leading the Tigers to eight bowl appearances. His brother Jeff has 30 years of collegiate coaching experience at Salem, Samford, Southern Miss, Florida State, North Alabama and Akron.

Bowden played collegiately at West Virginia, lettering two years as a running back (1977-78) and led the team with a 3.65 grade-point average in accounting and graduated Magna Cum Laude. He did post-graduate work at Oxford University in England and earned a Juris Doctorate from the Florida State School of Law in 1982.

— Featured photo courtesy of ULM Athletics