Geoff Collins still impacted by long-ago encounter with Bobby Bowden

Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins answers a question during an Atlantic Coast Conference media days NCAA college football Atlantic news conference in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
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Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins answers a question during an Atlantic Coast Conference media days NCAA college football Atlantic news conference in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Credit: Nell Redmond

Credit: Nell Redmond

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Upon hearing Wednesday’s news that Florida State great Bobby Bowden was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins offered a personal story that reflected the famously genial nature of the legendary coach.

Collins said that when he was a young coach, he happened to go through Tallahassee, Fla., on a recruiting trip. He took advantage of the trip to visit a friend at Florida State who was on Bowden’s staff. As Collins and his friend were talking in a hallway in the Seminoles’ coaching offices, Bowden heard them and came out of his office to investigate.

Bowden “stopped what he was doing and came out in the hallway, introduced himself, had me come into his office and just talked to me,” Collins said Wednesday at the ACC Kickoff media event. “Where are you from? What does your family do? What are your goals in this profession?”

The interest that a coach at the top of his profession showed in him still seemed to floor Collins, years later.

“He didn’t have to do that, but he did it, and it made an impact on me,” Collins said.

As a result, Collins said, he tries to connect with young coaches in the same way that Bowden once had.

“Because he did that for me,” Collins said.

Collins faced Bowden’s Seminoles as a part of former Tech coach George O’Leary’s staff, first as a graduate assistant and then as tight ends coach (1999-2001). FSU was victorious in each.

“Obviously, he’s a tremendous coach, tremendous career, created a dynasty when he was coaching there,” Collins said of Bowden. “Prayers go out to him and his family.”