Florida State Quarterbacks in Bobby Bowden’s Years

Bobby Bowden was known as a coach that liked great defense, but also a wide open offense. Some announcers called him a river boat gambler because he liked trick plays and throwing the ball around a lot. In spite of the reputation, Bowden liked to establish the run and move the football on the ground as well as in the air.

But, he was one of the coaches responsible for today’s more modern offenses.

This is a list of the Quarterbacks that Bowden played while winning a whole lot of football games at

Florida State.

1976 Jimmy Black was Bobby Bowden’s first Quarterback at Florida State, but the Seminoles came a long way from that initial season under Bowden.The Seminoles finished 5-6 which was their last losing record.

1977 – 1979 Jimmy Jordan and Wally Woodham wrote about them here: Bobby Bowden Quarterbacks This was when the nation started to take notice of Florida State and Bobby Bowden. Jordan and Woodham went to the same high school, Tallahassee Leon, and they both went to Florida State and neither separated from the other and they split time for 3 years. The Seminoles had a lot of success with the 2 Quarterback system going 10-2 in 1977, then 8-3 in 1978, followed by a nice 11-1 record.

1980 – 1981 Rick Stockstill Florida State was still on the fringes and flirting with greatness. In 1980, Stockstill led the team to a 10-2 record. But, they sunk back to 6-5 in 1981. Stockstill got into coaching after playing Quarterback and he is currently the head coach at Middle Tennessee State and his son plays Quarterback for him.

1982 – 1983 Kelly Lowrey. With Kelly Lowrey Quarterbacking the Seminoles, they went 9-3 and 7-5. Lowery threw for about 3,500 yards in 2 seasons as a starter.

1984 Eric Thomas. The Seminoles struggled somewhat to a 7-3-2 record in 1984, but these days were coming to a close in a hurry.

1985 Chip Ferguson and Danny McManus were the main two Quarterbacks in 1985, but they also had Kirk Coker and Eric Thomas splitting time as the starter. As unsettled as the Quarterback position was, the team still played well enough to finish 9-3.

situation was far from settled with

1986  Chip Ferguson, Danny McManus and Peter Tom Willis were the 3 Quarterbacks for the Seminoles in 1986. Bowden, at this point, seemed to have a hard time deciding on a Quarterback. Florida State finished at a mediocre 7-4-1 in 1986, but the Dynasty Period of Florida State football was about to get going after this season. You can read about that here: http://collegefootballcrazy.com/the-dynasty-florida-state-1987-2000/

1987 Danny McManus: With McManus taking over as the lone starter in 1987, the Seminoles came within a missed Field Goal of playing for a national championship in a crushing loss to the hated Miami Hurricanes. The Seminoles started the best years of their program history in 1987. McManus went to Kansas City as an 11th round pick but only lasted there one season. But, in Canada, he had some seriously great seasons and threw for over 50,000 yards.

1988 Chip Ferguson: McManus was now gone, but Peter Tom Willis was still around and the Seminoles had gained the services of Casey Weldon and Brad Johnson. But, Ferguson was the main man in 1988 and he led the Seminoles to an 11-1 record. Florida State was crushed in their first game by Miami, but bounced back to win 11 straight and a top 5 finish.

1989 Peter Tom Willis: The Seminoles were upset by Southern Mississippi and Brett Favre in game 1 and then they loss to Clemson to start the season at 0-2. However, they won their last 10 games and finished 10-2 and ranked #3. Willis was a 3rd round draft choice by the Chicago Bears and he played 9 years in the NFL.

1990 Casey Weldon and Brad Johnson: Florida State and Bowden used 2 Quarterbacks again in 1990. They won their first 4 games, before losing 2 close games in a row to 9th ranked Miami and to 5th ranked Auburn. They still finished strong with a 10-2 record and the 4th position in the final Polls. Johnson was originally a basketball player at Florida State before switching to football. He was a 9th round pick of the Minnesota Vikings and the 6-5, 240 Johnson played an amazing 17 years in the NFL.

1991 Casey Weldon: The job was finally all Weldon’s and the Seminoles finished the season 11-2. They lost to Miami and Florida by a combined 6 points. Weldon was a 4th round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles and he bounced around the NFL for 8 seasons before getting into high school football coaching.

1992 – 1993 Charlie Ward: The Hurricanes ruined another season for the Seminoles in 1992 as

Charlie Ward took over as Quarterback. They lost to Miami by 3 points, but they still finished 11-1 and ranked 2nd. 1993 was a glorious season for the Seminoles. Charlie Ward led the Seminoles to a 12-1 record with a loss coming to Notre Dame, but the Irish were upset by Boston College and Florida State won the national title. Charlie Ward won the Heisman Trophy, but decided to go to the NBA instead of the NFL. Bobby Bowden finally got that elusive national championship and Ward was the first Heisman winner for the Noles.

1994 – 1995 Danny Kanell: With Kanell taking over for Charlie Ward, the Seminoles finished 10-1-1 in 1994 and then 10-2 in 1995. The Seminoles still finished in the top 5 both seasons keeping a streak alive of top 5 finishes. Kanell was a 4th round pick by the New York Giants and he played 7 years in the NFL.

1996 – 1997 Thad Busby: In 1996, the Seminoles finished 11-1 losing in the Sugar Bowl in a rematch with Florida for the national title. 1997 was one of Bowden’s better teams and they beat Miami 47-0. But, their new nemesis was the Florida Gators and they lost to Steve Spurrier’s team by 3 points in the last regular season game spoiling national championship hopes. They finished 11-1 and ranked 3rd. Busby was not drafted by any NFL team, but he did play 2 years in the NFL and in the Arena Football League.

1998 – 2000 Chris Weinke: Old man Weinke played 6 years in the Toronto Blue Jays farm system before coming to Florida State at the age of 26. In 1998, the Seminoles were upset by the North Carolina State Wolfpack in their second game. But, as usual, the talented Seminoles recovered to win the rest of their regular season games. In the Fiesta Bowl, they lost to the Tennessee Vols who won

the national championship that season.

The Seminoles were not to be denied in 1999. They finished 12-0 with a win over Michael Vick and Virginia Tech to claim Bobby Bowden’s second national championship.

The following season, 2000, Florida State was ranked #1 when they lost to 7th ranked Miami. They were still in the running for the national title in their bowl game against Oklahoma, but they lost to the Sooners.

2001 – 2003  Chris Rix: The dynasty period was now officially over for the Seminoles and Bowden. With Chris Rix at Quarterback, Florida State finished with a rather disappointing 8-4 record in 2001. They were crushed by North Carolina, Miami and Florida and they also lost to North Carolina State. In 2002, the Florida State Seminoles weren’t a bad team, but they lost 5 close games and finished 9-5. They lost by 1 point to Miami who played for the national title that season.

Florida State bounced back to prominence in 2003 and finished up with 10 wins against 3 losses. The problem was, Miami beat them in the regular season and then again in their bowl rematch. I’ve never liked rematch games in college football.

2004 Chris Rix and Wyatt Sexton: Frustration with Chris Rix continued at Florida State and they benched him for Wyatt Sexton a few times during his senior year. They lost to Miami in their opening game, and then to Maryland and later to the Florida Gators. Even though the Seminoles finished 9-3, Chris Rix became the first Florida State Quarterback to lose to Miami every time they played. He, as a Quarterback, was 0-5 against the hated Hurricanes.

2005 – 2007 Drew Weatherford: 2005 was a very disappointing season for the Seminoles. They did manage to beat Miami in game one and they were 5-0 with wins over 2 ranked teams and they

dropped to the 4th spot in the Polls. But, then it all fell apart with losses to Virginia, and of course, North Carolina State. After the Wolfpack, they dropped games to Clemson and Florida. The Clemson and Florida games weren’t even close. 8-5 records were not acceptable with Florida State.

Neither was 7-6 which the program fell to in 2006 and 2007.

2008 – 2010 Christian Ponder: Ponder would be Bobby Bowden’s last Quarterback. Jimmy Black had been the first and Christian Ponder was the last, so remember that for a trivia question.

2008 was a slight improvement with a 9-4 record, but again this is Florida State we are talking about and a 4 loss season is still not going to cut it.

2009 was Bobby Bowden’s last season. Younger Florida State fans had never known another coach as head of the program. The Seminoles struggled to a 7-6 record, but they did finish with a win over West Virginia which ironically was the job that Bowden had before he came to Florida State.

Jimbo Fisher took over as head coach in 2010 and the Seminoles responded with a 10-4 record.

Bowden recruit Ponder was a 1st round draft pick by the Minnesota Vikings.

Bowden finished his coaching career at Florida State with an official 304-97-4 record which was tarnished with a few wins taken away by the NCAA.

It wasn’t all about the Quarterbacks, but Bowden’s teams had some good ones over the years with two of them winning the coveted Heisman Trophy.

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