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Bobby Bowden signs on as fund-raiser for FSU athletics

Bobby Bowden won two national titles at FSU. Now he will be a fund-raiser for the athletics program.

Forced into retirement in November 2009, former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is now going to be heavily involved as a fund-raiser for the athletics program.

Bowden and Seminole Boosters, Inc., have agreed to a "marketing and promotions agreement" to raise money for Florida State athletics in an announcement that was made Tuesday afternoon. The 83-year-old former coaching legend will make public appearances, market and raise funds as part of a deal that will pay him $250,000 annually beginning in January 2014.

And Bowden has also made a deal with the boosters to use his name and likeness under a licensing agreement. Half of the net royalties will go to Bowden with a large portion going to Florida State athletics programs.

Bowden is set to return to two Florida State games for the first time since his retirement, and he will see the Seminoles host N.C. State on Oct. 26 and Syracuse on Nov. 16 for the 20-year anniversary of Florida State's first national championship.

But now he will be back on campus - and presumably traveling around the state - while wearing garnet and gold.

“I am excited about being back,” Bowden said. “One of the things I missed most about Florida State was the Seminole Boosters banquets that I did. You do that for 34 years, you get real personal. You’ve been knowing them for 34 years so it will feel good to see a lot of (friends) again.

“I hope most of it is golf. But whatever it is I will be there.”

Bowden started his booster tour at Florida State in the late 1970s. At the time it was just a small tour that included a handful of North Florida cities and a handful of fans. It grew into an event with a few dozen stops around the state and in Georgia, with Bowden playing golf and stopping for pictures with alumni and boosters.

He coached at Florida State from 1976-2009, winning 304 of his 377 games in Tallahassee. Bowden led the Seminoles to national titles in 1993 and '99 and his teams were in the top 4 of the Associated Press poll in every season from 1988-2000. He has the most wins in major college football all-time after the NCAA ordered that 111 of Joe Paterno's wins were vacated.

Bowden was clearly agitated by his forced retirement in 2009, saying that he wanted to give new coach Jimbo Fisher (Bowden's offensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting from 2007-09) space to operate without a coaching icon looking over his shoulder. He still lived in Tallahassee but often flew around the country on speaking engagements, played golf and watched as much college football from his sofa as he could on Saturdays.

But Bowden was inducted into the school's athletics hall of fame in August 2012 and said it was meaningful to receive the honor after a few years away.

And now Florida State is turning to its most recognizable name as a recruiter - this time not of young football talent but of dollars. Bowden excelled at both in his years as coach, and he's being asked to do it once more.

“(The money raised) goes to a young man or woman who gets an education, then becomes a productive citizen with a good job, and the first thing you know they are donating (a scholarship) back because they realize what the university meant to them," Bowden said. "I just hope I can do my part.”

School administrators and booster officials had been working quietly for a while on the deal with Bowden.

“Coach Bowden has always said that he didn’t want to come back until his successor had established himself,” said Gene Ready, Chairman of the Board of Seminole Boosters.  “Now that Jimbo Fisher has won an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and the BCS Orange Bowl Championship, the time was right.

"Who better to promote FSU athletic programs than the man who put us on the national collegiate sports map and led us to national championships twice? It is definitely a win-win-win situation for Seminole Boosters, FSU and coach Bowden.”

Contact Bob Ferrante at bobferrante17@gmail.com or on Twitter @bobferrante