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The Dean of all Mid-American Conference coaches with 159 career wins, Akron’s Terry Bowden enters his fifth season in 2016 at the helm of the UA program. He was named the Zips’ 27th all-time head coach on Dec. 22, 2011, but is just the seventh person to hold the position since 1960.
Owning a 159-92-2 record over a 22-year collegiate coaching career, Bowden ranks sixth nationally among active Division I head coaches in career wins (159).
Bowden has been responsible for miraculous turnarounds almost everywhere he has coached and has once again done it at The University of Akron.
In 2015, Bowden guided the Zips to an 8-5 overall record and a second-place finish in the MAC (5-3) East en route to the program’s first winning season and bowl appearance since 2005. Ranked No. 2 nationally by Phil Steele as the Most Improved Team, Akron captured its first-ever bowl victory in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) era (since 1987) with a 23-21 win over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22. UA won the 500th game in program history with a 35-14 victory at Louisiana on Sept. 26, 2015, while closing out the season with five consecutive wins. The Zips shut out rival Kent State, 20-0, in the home finale to regain possession of the coveted Wagon Wheel. The eight wins on the season were the most in the FBS era.
Senior LB Jatavis Brown was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and a three-time first-team All-Mid-American Conference selection. Senior NT Cody Grice was a second-team pick, while senior OL lineman Isaiah Williams, senior DL Rodney Coe, and junior DL Jamal Marcus were third-team All-MAC selections. Ten Zips earned Academic All-MAC honors, including four-time recipient PK Robert Stein and three-time honoree Kyle Pohl. Five of those 10 Zips were selected as MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athletes.
The Zips led the MAC in total defense (331.5) and rushing defense (92.9) which ranked third nationally. Senior LB Jatavis Brown competed in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl after setting records for TFL (20.0) and sacks (12.) in a season and 41.5 TFL in his career. He became just the 16th Zip in program history (and first-ever linebacker) to be drafted into the NFL. Brown was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fifth round.
In 2014, Bowden led UA to its second-straight 5-7 record overall and a 3-5 mark against the MAC. He led the Zips to their first win over a BCS/Power 5 opponent since 2008, downing Pittsburgh, 21-10, at Heinz Field on Sept. 27. The win was the first for Akron over an ACC program since UA’s 20-17 win at NC State on Sept. 9, 2006. The 5-7 record marked the first time since the 2005 and 2006 seasons that the Zips had posted back-to-back campaigns with five or more victories (7-6 in 2005, 5-7 in 2006).
Four Zips earned All-Mid-American Conference honors in 2014, with junior linebacker Jatavis Brown and junior nose tackle Cody Grice named first-team All-MAC. Senior defensive lineman Nordly Capi and junior punter Zach Paul earned second-team honors. In addition to the All-MAC honors, nine Zips were named Academic All-MAC, led by three-time honoree Robert Stein. The nine honorees marked the third straight season with nine or more Academic All-MAC selections.
During the summer, five players from the 2014 squad signed with NFL teams, including Nordly Capi (Jacksonville), Jawon Chisholm (Pittsburgh), Zach D’Orazio (New England), Justin March -Lillard (Kansas City), and Nmesoma Okafor (Cincinnati).
In 2013, Bowden led UA to its highest win total since 2008 by going 5-7 overall and 4-4 against the MAC, as well as ending the year by winning three straight and four of its last five games. The Zips went 3-3 at home, including a 31-29 win over Toledo in the season finale and a 16-7 victory over neighborhood rival Kent State to regain possession of the coveted wooden Wagon Wheel.
Additionally in 2013, seven players were named All-MAC, highlighted by first-team selection then-sophomore linebacker Jatavis Brown – the first Zip named to the first team since Bryan Wagner in 2011. The 2013 squad also landed defensive lineman Nico Caponi, sophomore quarterback Kyle Pohl and sophomore kicker Robert Stein on the Academic All-MAC Team – the most for the program since 2006. Eight other student-athletes were awarded academic honorable mention.
In 2012, Bowden, serving as offensive coordinator, ushered in a spread offense that resulted in an aerial attack responsible for a school-record and MAC season-high 30 passing touchdowns. The offense, which was conducted in a hurry-up no-huddle style, was led by fifth-year senior transfer quarterback Dalton Williams, who set the program’s single-season record for touchdown passes (25) and pass completions (326-for-522), while compiling the third most passing yards (3,387) in a season in school history.
Williams’ arm was complimented by sophomore running back Jawon Chisholm’s 953 yards rushing on the strength of 180 carries and senior receiver Marquelo Suel’s team-high 820 receiving yards off 76 catches. Suel’s receptions were the second most in a single season in program history and earned him a place on the All-MAC Team.
The UA offense finished 2012 ranked first in the MAC and 16th nationally in passing (312.8 ypg), and sixth in the league and 45th in the country in total offense (427.2 ypg). Akron’s 5,126 yards of total offense ranked sixth in the MAC and 61st nationally, and was the second most in a season in program history, behind the 2003 squad’s 5,643.
Other highlights of the 2012 season included redshirt freshman kicker Robert Stein being one of 38 student-athletes named to the Academic All-MAC Team. Additionally, 11 Zips earned academic honorable mention from the league. Fifth-year senior transfer linebacker Kurt Mangum was selected to compete in the NFL Players Association Collegiate Bowl after he led the squad with 110 tackles.
Bowden, who served as a studio analyst and color commentator with ABC Sports’ college football for 10 years, was the head coach at Auburn from 1993-98 and spent the three seasons prior to coming to Akron at Division II North Alabama.
In his time at North Alabama, Bowden led the Lions to a 29-9 record and three consecutive playoff appearances. In 2011, the squad went 9-3 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. He was named Gulf South Conference Co-Coach of the Year in 2009 when the team went 11-2 and won the GSC championship and advanced to the quarterfinals of the playoffs. He followed that in 2010 by guiding the Lions to a 9-4 record and another trip to the playoffs.
Bowden was named head coach at Auburn on Dec. 17, 1992. In 1993, Auburn had a perfect 11-0 record and he swept virtually every national coach of the year award in his rookie season, including Walter Camp, Scripps Howard, Football News, Toyota and the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, presented by the Football Writers Association. Bowden was the first coach in Division I-A to go 11-0 in his inaugural season, winning the first 20 games of his tenure consecutively.
Bowden was again a finalist for coach of the year following his second season at Auburn as the Tigers had reeled off 20-straight wins, an Auburn record, and finished 9-1-1. He posted a 47-17-1 record at Auburn and led the Tigers to three bowl games.
As head coach of Auburn, he went 47-17-1 (73.4 winning percentage) and posted the best opening five-year run of any head football coach in school history. Also during his time with the Tigers, Bowden became the first collegiate coach in 50 years to win his 100th career game by his 40th birthday.
In his first season at AU, he became the first coach in Division I-A (now FBS) history to have an undefeated and untied season in his inaugural year at that level.
Prior to his stint at Auburn, Bowden built two programs from the ground up as head coach at Salem College (W.Va.) and Samford University (Ala.). When he took the job at Salem in 1983 he became the nation’s youngest head coach in college football at age 26. He inherited a program that went 0-9-1 the season before his arrival and guided the team to two conference championships in his first three years.
Inheriting a Samford program which had won just six games in three years prior to his arrival, Bowden led the Bulldogs to a 9-1 record his first year, tying the record for the best season in school history. The squad led the nation in total offense (523 yards per game) and scoring offense (51.7 points per game), both national Division III records. The team’s 40 touchdown passes were also a national single-season record.
Bowden then engineered and directed Samford’s move from non-scholarship Division III football to Division I-AA (now FCS) scholarship football. With only one freshman class on scholarship, the Bulldogs went to a full Division I-AA schedule in 1989. By 1991, Samford was competing for the national championship. His 1991 Samford team had the best record in school history at 12-2, and reached the Division I-AA national semifinals.
Bowden, 60 (born Feb. 25, 1956), was an assistant coach at Akron in 1986 under then Zips’ head coach Gerry Faust.
During his time away from coaching, Bowden first served as the studio analyst and color commentator with ABC Sports’ college football coverage in the studios in Times Square. He was also an analyst for Westwood One Radio’s College Football National Game of the Week, co-hosted “The Coaches Show” on Sirius Satellite Radio with Jack Arute, and was the exclusive college football columnist for Yahoo! Sports.
Bowden is a member of one of the most famous and successful college football coaching families. His father, Bobby Bowden, turned Florida State into a national champion and his 377 collegiate wins rank second in Division I history.
His brother Tommy had an 18-4 record in two seasons as head coach at Tulane and a 72-45 record in 10 seasons as head coach at Clemson, taking the Tigers to eight bowl games. His brother Jeff also has 25 years of collegiate coaching experience, working at Salem, Samford, Southern Mississippi, Florida State, North Alabama, and at Akron with Terry.
During the decade of the 1990s, Terry, Tommy, and Bobby all led their teams to undefeated seasons. All three were named National Coach of the Year. Bobby and Terry were the first father-son combo in NCAA history to serve as head coaches at the same time. Bobby and Tommy were the first father-son combo to coach against each other.
As a student-athlete at West Virginia, Bowden lettered two years as a running back (1977-78), held a 3.65 grade-point average in accounting, the highest GPA on the football team, 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, while a graduate assistant coach with the Seminoles.
Bowden married Audrey Renner in June 2016. Together, the couple has five daughters (Tera, Jordan, Erin, Cori and Jamie Bowden), three sons (Terry Bowden, Jr., Danny and Drew Renner), and a grandson Skyler.
He is one of 59 coaches at FBS schools that vote in the USA Today Top 25 poll.
Bowden's Career Head Coaching History
1983-85 – Salem (19-13 record)
1987-92 – Samford (45-23-1 record)
1993-98 – Auburn (47-17-1 record)
2009-11 – North Alabama (29-9 record)
2012 – Akron (1-11 record)
2013 – Akron (5-7 record)
2014 – Akron (5-7 record)
2015 – Akron (8-5 record)
Career Record: 159-92-2
Akron Record: 19-30