Terry Bowden to speak at Boy Scouts dinner
Former Salem College, Auburn coach returns to area
by Joedy McCreary
MORGANTOWN — Yes, Terry Bowden has seen the sign.
    And chances are, you’ve seen it, too: Jimmy Malfregeot’s ill-fated attempt to get the attention of the ESPN television cameras during the West Virginia-Syracuse football game last November. “Terry Bowden, Call Home, 1-800-HELP-WVU.”
    But to Bowden, it was simply a compliment, a nod to his roots in the state. Nothing more, nothing less.
    Not a serious suggestion to displace Don Nehlen as WVU’s head coach. And certainly not a slight toward WVU assistants Doc Holliday and Steve Dunlap, who played football with Bowden at WVU. “That’s natural,” said Bowden, who will be speaking at Wednesday’s Boy Scouts of America  Leadership Dinner at Via Veneto’s in Bridgeport.
    “But it should not be taken seriously. Don Nehlen should and will be allowed to coach as long as he wants to,” Bowden said. “West Virginia is not a big state,” Bowden said. “You can’t go anywhere and run into someone from West Virginia and not know somebody they know. You will know somebody they know.”
    West Virginia’s small-town allure has left its mark on Bowden, who graduated from Morgantown High and played running back for WVU in 1977-78. And at the age of 26, Bowden was Salem College’s youngest head coach.
Bowden affectionately remembers high school games against Harrison County opponents, listing them among his favorite athletic memories.
    “My most memorable sports moments include competing against Clarksburg Victory, and later Clarksburg Liberty, in football, wrestling against W.I. and playing baseball against Bridgeport,” Bowden said. “And (coaching at Salem) was the foundation for my coaching career.
    “West Virginia is a special state,” Bowden said. “Some people smile bigger when they drive into it, and some people smile bigger when they drive out of it. But most of my family was raised in West Virginia, and we retain the warm feelings of the  people that remember us.”
    After 15 years as a college coach, Bowden — who unceremoniously was forced out at Auburn midway through last season —will be the studio analyst for ABC’s college football telecasts this season.
    He eventually hopes to follow the paths of Dick Vermeil, Jimmy Johnson and Lou Holtz, paths that led through the broadcast booth and back to the sidelines.
    “Although it was very disappointing the way I was treated at Auburn, it did slap me upside the head to get into other things,” Bowden said. “I’m looking forward to that, then evaluate the rest of my life. It’s something ... I got a great chance after being pushed out at Auburn.”


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Copyright Clarksburg Publishing Company 1999