Gators notebook: Coaches pay tribute to FSU legendary coach Bobby Bowden

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Nov. 26, 2005: Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer greets FSU head coach Bobby Bowden after Florida's 34-7 victory over FSU at Florida's Ben Hill Griffin stadium in Gainesville. [Bob Self, Florida Times-Union]

Former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden’s death Sunday morning at 91 years of age following a battle with pancreatic cancer left the world of college football in mourning, and the countless individuals whose lives Bowden touched have spoken out in remembrance of a legend of the game. 

Former UF head coaches Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer each shared tributes on their social media pages, as did current head coach Dan Mullen. UF assistant coach Tim Brewster, who worked at FSU from 2013 until 2017, also extended his condolences on his Twitter account with a brief message Sunday, though Brewster had far more to say when Florida’s tight ends coach met with the media Monday.

Brewster recounted his first impression of Bowden, saying he was initially struck by Bowden's humanity and kindness.

“You know, I really appreciate you asking, I really do. I was a senior in 1984 at the University of Illinois, and I was selected to play in the Japan Bowl All-Star Game, and my head coach in that game was Coach Bowden, and I was just blown away by the guy, by his demeanor,” said Brewster. “Just an amazing human being. I think that needs to trump all of his great human abilities as a coach, just an amazing gentleman.”

Brewster’s initial impression was verified when he moved to Tallahassee and learned that Bowden remained generous post-retirement. 

“I just so enjoyed the week that we had and playing for him in that game, and then I had the opportunity to go coach at Florida State, and the type of guy that Coach Bowden is, he lived on a golf course there in Tallahassee, and he provided memberships for all the full-time coaches at Florida State to play at his club, and again, it just goes back to what type of human being he is, what type of guy he is.

"Amazing family, I just love the Bowden family. And guys like him, they’re irreplaceable. I think Coach Bowden is irreplaceable, just as a human being, as a coach. Won national championships, but again, I heard him say how I want to be remembered — as a man that inspired young men to be better men. Not winning football games, not winning national championships, but a man who inspired young men to become a better man. And, golly he’s going to be sorely missed, and I just, I was so blessed to have the opportunity to get to know him and become his friend.”

Bowden’s funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday in Tallahassee’s Tucker Civic Center. The service is open to the public and doors open at 9:30 a.m.

Brewster on Arik Gilbert

Can’t miss what you never had, right?

Brewster isn’t one to bite his tongue when asked to share his thoughts — except when it comes to discussing a player on another team. 

After recapping the personnel on Florida’s roster charged with replacing Kyle Pitts’ production, Brewster was asked if it hurt to lose tight end transfer Arik Gilbert, who planned on transferring to UF before a change of heart led him to Georgia, before Gilbert could ever arrive in Gainesville. 

Brewster wasn’t entertaining the notion, citing the last point as his justification — Gilbert wasn’t on Florida’s roster at any point, so Brewster never had a chance to become familiar with his skill set or potential in the Gators’ offense. 

“We never had him, so who knows? Who knows exactly what he's going to do. I hate to comment on a player that's not mine. He made a decision to do what he's going to do. I just don't think — I think Gator fans and Gator people can feel good about the fact that we're going to line up with some really good tight ends. Our tight end play is going to be really good. That's what's in my gut,” Brewster said. “We'll be OK.”

The dancing TE coach tradition continues

There’s something about Florida’s tight ends coaches when it comes to standing out in recruiting videos. 

Back in January of 2017, with the Gators looking to close strong on the recruiting trail just before social media, former tight ends coach Greg Nord was captured partaking in a dance-off after UF flipped former safety Donovan Stiner from Houston. 

Nord stunned social media when he was filmed doing The Worm on the floor of Florida’s meeting room, much to the joy of recruits in attendance and the Florida fans watching at home. 

Brewster was most likely unaware of the bar Nord set all those years ago, but that didn’t stop the current UF tight ends coach from busting a move over the weekend. 

Brewster joined in on the fun with Mullen and several recruits to recreate a popular dance on the TikTok video platform, although he admits it was a spur of the moment decision and he’s never claimed to be a capable dancer. Those who saw the video most likely agree with Brewster that he should stick to being a talented Division I football coach. 

"One thing I ain't ever been accused of is being a good dancer. Coach Mullen had this thought of doing the TikTok deal and each coach had to be involved in the deal,” Brewster said. “I just kind of moved around and stuck my leg out and everybody said I had dance moves. Hey, we had a good time. It was fun." 

But Brewster can swing a club

As if Monday’s Zoom news conference hadn’t gone too far off the rails just yet, the conversation turned to Brewster’s prowess on the golf course, and the 60-year-old tight end coach has far more confidence on the links than he does on the dance floor. 

Brewster estimated his handicap to be “about a 10 when I get a chance to play” — an impressive number, though Brewster’s got some competition among the position group he coaches. 

Asked if he could compete with 6-foot-6 tight end Jonathan Odom on the golf course, Brewster asked Orlando Sentinel reporter Edgar Thompson if he knew Odom’s handicap off the top of his head, and Thompson informed Brewster that Odom had most recently carded a 76 at the University of Florida golf course. 

Brewster seemed a bit surprised that Odom could swing the club that well. Considering he’d already praised Odom’s impact on the tight end room, Brewster may have come away with an even higher opinion of the Tampa native after learning he’d been unknowingly coaching a multi-sport athlete. 

“I told him he’s not ready for me,” Brewster said of Odom. “I’m about a 10 when I get a chance to play, so he may be able to get me if he’s that good. As long as he is, can he really swing the club? He’s got some club head speed?”