Terry Bowden’s slow, difficult climb back up the coaching ranks took on another twist Thursday.
Bowden will take over at Akron after leading North Alabama to the playoffs in his three seasons at the NCA Division II program. He’ll be officially introduced on Dec. 28.
Bowden, the son of legendary coach Bobby Bowden, has not coached an FBS program since 1998. He had six tumultuous seasons at Auburn, which included a forced resignation. He also led the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1993.
He was out of coaching for 10 seasons, but it became clear he was interested in coaching again when Rich Rodriguez left West Virginia after the 2007 season. He lobbied hard for the job, but WVU settled for Bill Stewart.
One year later, Bowden swallowed his pride and took the job at North Alabama. The step back gave him a chance to prove his chops as a coach again.
Now he gets a shot in the Mid-American Conference. If he can turn around Akron, which went 2-22 the past two years under Rob Ianello, the Bowden just may get another shot with a BCS program.
Akron isn’t a great job, but there is potential. The university added a new downtown stadium in 2009 and made a serious commitment to building a solid winner.
However, the Zips have been below the 85 scholarship limit since 2008 after failing to comply with NCAA graduation rates. Add in the fact that Ianello didn’t recruit much quality into the program and Bowden has his work cut out for him like never before.
The Zips have not had a winning season since 2005 and have won just five of its last 36 games.
So how does Bowden develop a winning formula at Akron?
It will start in Ohio, and he’ll need to keep those second-tier Division I kids from going to the Miami RedHawks, Ohio Bobcats and even Division III Mount Union, which is near Akron. Another winning formula would involve getting any Ohio State kids looking to transfer.
Bowden is a proven winner and there’s no reason to think he won’t do it again.