Sonny James, one of country music's legends, was known as The Southern Gentleman.
That's also the perfect description of former West Virginia University and Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden, with whom it was my pleasure to spend a few minutes during his Wednesday night appearance at the Leadership Dinner for the Allohak Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Bowden is from the old school, where you treat everyone with the respect with which you like to be treated.
He's a kind, religious man who cares about others and never shows an ego in a sports world where gigantic egos are the norm.
His answers were short, sweet and to the point.
He's one of those people who doesn't beat around the bush.
He gives you a direct answer and one that upon reflection afterward would be classified as wise.
When asked about how West Virginia University will fare in the Big 12, Bowden said, "They'll do fine, as long as they spend the money.''
Exactly. College football is an arms race.
Those with the resources -as long as they are spent wisely -will enjoy the most success.
Asked what advice he would give to a young coach trying to become the next Bobby Bowden (like there ever will be another one), Bowden said, "Attend as many clinics and meet as many coaches as possible.''
Bowden said it only takes one coach to give you a chance to prove your mettle and the more coaches you meet, the better your chance of landing that first job that might launch your career.
"It's not what you know,'' Bowden said, "it's who you know.''
Again, sage advice. Networking with others in your field gets your name out there and leads to job offers, promotions, etc. The more people who know who you are, the more successful you likely will become.
Asked if there would be future coaches like he and Joe Paterno who stayed for decades at the same school, Bowden said he doubted it. "They make so much money nowadays, they can retire early,'' he said.
Bowden has a great sense of humor.
Asked about his fondest memory of his years in West Virginia, he quipped, "It certainly wasn't the Pitt game in 1970.''
That's the game where WVU blew a 35-8 halftime lead and lost the Backyard Brawl to the Panthers, 36-35. Bowden took a lot of heat for punting inside Pitt territory that day.
He then answered the question, "It was the Pitt game in 1975.''
That's one no Mountaineer fan ever will forget. I was sitting in the student section when Bill McKenzie kicked the game-winning field goal to upset the favored Panthers. I remember Sunnyside ran out of beer that night, although we didn't burn couches back then.
Bobby Bowden is a classic, a relic, a throwback to a day when respect and loyalty were admirable traits.
He's a modern-day southern gentleman.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org