2016 Purdue Football Coaching Search: Terry Bowden
Candidate Tier: MAC-tacular
Who Is He?
Old man Bowden! The 60 year old coaching vet was a running back at West Virginia, graduating in 1978. He’s amassed a 163-95-2 record over his 23 years as a head coach, and is probably most well-known for his fairly successful run at Auburn in the 90s. Recruiting and off-the-field issues got him booted out of Auburn (which is really saying something), and Bowden ended up on ABC for the better part of a decade.
His return to the sideline was interesting, with rumors floating in 2008 that Bowden was being considered for the openings at West Virginia (after Rich Rod left for Michigan) and Georgia Tech (went with Paul Johnson, who our dear AD Mike Bobinski is…umm…familiar with). Eventually, Bowden’s desire to get back into coaching was strong enough to take him to DII North Alabama, where they were competitive in DII’s crazy tournament thing. Every single sport should have a crazy tournament thing.
Bowden moved into the MAC in 2012, taking over Akron’s program after an abysmal pair of years under Rob Ianello. Bowden is still coaching at Lebron James University, and is seemingly in the midst of an impressive turnaround of a moribund program.
Why would he be successful at Purdue?
Did we mention he took over a dilapidated football team and has gradually turned it into a successful, bowl-eligible program? From 2009 through 2012 (including JD Brookhart’s last year, Ianello’s two years, and Bowden’s first year), Akron won a grand total of…five games. That’s right. Five.
I wonder what that type of losing feels like.
During Bowden’s tenure, the Zips have gone 1-11, (5-77 typo) 5-7, 5-7, and 8-5, notching victories over Toledo, Pittsburgh, and Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (yeah, I know). Akron currently sits at 4-3 for 2016, with a victory over Marshall and tough games against Ball State, Toledo, and Ohio left on the docket.
Why could he flop at Purdue?
A 60 year old man, whose only Power 5 coaching success came almost two decades ago, ain’t the best recipe for success. He also hasn’t recruited against high-major schools in twenty years, and doesn’t have a system to hang his hat on. This would pretty much be a guaranteed disaster.
Would he come to Purdue?
Absolutely. In an instant. Bowden would see Purdue as his last stop, with a Tiller-like resurgence late in his career leading directly into his grumpy-old-man retirement. If this were Morgan Burke’s program, I could see Bowden getting a call. But Bobinski seems to be a much more aggressive AD, so I can’t see Bowden getting more than a passing mention during the initial meetings.