Terry Bowden is a big-time coach from a legendary family at a mid-major college.
Bowden, the son of former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, coached at Auburn (47-17-1) but now is head coach at Akron. He will bring his team to Norman September 3 to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. The kickoff is at 6 p.m.
What happened to Bowden at Auburn?
Bowden was hired to succeed Pat Day in 1992 and in his first year, he went 11-0. He went 9-1-1 the next season and won 20 games in a row – then an Auburn record.
In 1997, he took Auburn to the SEC championship game and lost to Peyton Manning and the Tennessee Volunteers.
Then trouble started, with recruiting problems, player discipline issues and a rough relationship with Auburn administrators. He started the 1998 season 1-5 and he resigned.
After some work in broadcasting, he went back into coaching at North Alabama and in December of 2011, he was hired to coach Akron. In 2013, he almost beat Michigan as a pass from the three yard line fell incomplete on the final play of the game. Akron lost 28-24.
His record at Akron is not so good at 11-25. He was 1-11 in 2012 and 5-7 the last two seasons.
“Every year we get a little more talented,” Bowden said during Mid-American Conference media days. “We need to improve the quality of our roster. The talent from the first team to the third team – that’s what has improved.”
Oklahoma fans will finally get a look at quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has been named the starter against Akron by Coach Bob Stoops. Trevor Knight will be Mayfield’s backup and sophomore Cody Thomas will be the team’s No. 3 quarterback.
“It’s been a very tight battle among those three guys,” said Stoops. “Baker, Trevor and Cody have all made substantial progress and I feel we can win with any of them.”
Mayfield, a 6-1, 209-pounder was forced to sit out last season after transferring from Texas Tech. As a freshman walk-on in 2013, he was named Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year and received freshman honorable mention All-America honors from College Football News after throwing for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games (seven starts).
Mayfield was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and earned multiple national-player-of-the-week honors after completing 43 of 60 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns (added another on the ground) in a season-opening win over SMU.
“It’s been a long wait, that’s for sure,” Mayfield said. “I couldn’t be any happier that football is coming around the corner and it’s finally here.”
Fans will also get a first look at Lincoln Riley, OU’s new offensive coordinator.
“He has been great,’ Mayfield said. “He’s a high-energy guy and you want to play for him. He gets you in a positive attitude and makes you want to play.”
“He’s a guy who will tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong, but also a guy who’ll celebrate with you when you’re doing things right,” said Knight. “That’s the kind of coach you want to play for because for us as players, it gives you confidence and makes you want to learn.”
The new offense is a switch from a pro-style to a faster pace.
“It’ll be a fun offense to watch; up tempo with a lot of big plays,” Knight said.
“We’ll push the ball down the field and utilize our committee of talented backs to create a dynamic look. I’m excited for people to see it.”
With OU’s stable of running backs, there is concern that they might be underutilized due to more passing.
“”You’re always going to have some people that disagree with where the ball should be, but when they win and they get a national championship I don’t think they argue,” Mayfield said.
Riley’s offense has a tendency to take unknown quarterbacks and turn them into stars.
“I think you can make this system fit the quarterback,” said Riley. “A lot of times, the guys who people think are the best quarterbacks are because they are 6-7 or because they have a huge arm or run really fast. A lot of that has nothing to do with playing quarterback. If you go and look at some of the best guys in the NFL right now, you’ve got a guy like Drew Brees who is six foot. Guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — neither of them could break 5.2 in the 40-yard dash right now, but they are great players because they know how to play. Everybody has always called us a quarterback-friendly system. I agree. If we ever run a system that’s not quarterback-friendly we’re not doing our job.”
Stoops said a new coach and system can really help a quarterback.
“”Look at (Clint) Trickett a year ago at West Virginia,” Stoops said. “That’s what I keep saying. They have such trust in their system and the fundamentals and the discipline in it, and once a quarterback becomes comfortable in that, it allows for a lot of success. It’s not only for quarterbacks but for receivers as well. You’ve seen it in a lot of schools and maybe even in a lot of guys who weren’t highly recruited at quarterback and receiver both.”
One of the best aspects of an otherwise disappointing 8-5 season last year was the emergence of All Big 12 running back Samaje Perine.
“I wish we had about three of him,” said Riley. “He’s pretty good. Very versatile. Very, very dependable. I have been impressed with his versatility. I knew coming in that he could run the ball. Everybody knows that. Seeing the kind of person he is, seeing how smart of a football player he is, and how versatile he is, that shows you why he is the kind of player he is.”
Stoops said Perine has handled his newfound attention well.
“It’s like he does (with) everything,” Stoops said. “He’s really mature and humble about it. Samaje realizes the help around him and the guys around him. Samaje is a really mature and wise young man and mature beyond his years in how he handles everything. I believe he’s taken all this in stride, all the hype about him, and he just wants to be a big part of what we’re doing.”
Even though OU is ranked No. 19, there are some who think they might do better. ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit has predicted that OU will win the Big 12 and be one of the teams in the four-team college football national playoff.
“I think Oklahoma is gonna surprise everybody,” Herbstreit said. “I think Oklahoma is gonna end up emerging. The main reason I feel like they will have the ability to do that is the backfield that they have. Samaje Perine might be the most talented back that not a lot of people are talking about.”
He predicts OU, Ohio State, LSU and Arizona State will make the playoff.