News Home
Quick Bites Archive
Exploradio Archive
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

Pluto: How Terry Bowden took Akron from 1-11 to bowl champs
Bowden's experience led a rebuilding process that turned Akron into first-ever bowl champions

Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
The University of Akron won its first ever bowl game on Tuesday, following its first winning season in a decade.
Download (WKSU Only)

The University of Akron football team won a first-ever bowl game yesterday, 23-21 over Utah State. It caps a tumultuous year for the team that made headlines for having the lowest attendance in all of Division I, coupled with its $8 million annual deficit. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto talks about how the Zips overcame a decade of losing.

LISTEN: Pluto talks about Akron football's revival season

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:52)

The Zips (7-5 overall, 5-3 MAC) beat Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise on Tuesday for Akron's first-ever bowl win. It was only the second time they've been to a bowl game; the last time was 2005. 

Terry Pluto talks about a pivotal moment when the Zips turned a corner.

"The middle of the season their record was 3-5. There was all the discussion about the stadium and all the money that's owed on the stadium and the field house. There was all this turmoil at the University of Akron. A new president comes in, job cutbacks and everything else. There were even some people on the faculty who wanted the team to drop back a division or two to play a lower level of football, which meant they would have had to leave the MAC.

Bowden ball
Pluto says Coach Terry Bowden's job was on the line. The school hired a new athletic director -- and they typically like to hire their own coach. After four years at Akron, Bowden's records had been 1-11, 5-7, 5-7. And in the middle of the fourth year, he was 3-5.

"And then suddenly, they started to win some games. Four in a row to finish the season 7-5," Pluto says.  

Pluto says Bowden's experience has paid off for Akron. He was an assistant at Akron in 1986. He become the head coach at Salem (W. Va.) University and Samford (Ala.) before moving to Auburn, where the Tigers won his first 20 games. He resigned after a 1-5 start in 1998, however, and became an analyst for ABC television.

"When they hired Terry Bowden, he was 54-years-old. If this guy was sincere about wanting to do a good job, he actually knows what to do. He's been around. He's not a training-wheel coach."

When Bowden came to Akron, he was the third coach in four years. The last time the team had a winning record, J.D. Brookhart was the coach in 2005. Then, Rob Ianello was fired after going 1-11 in two straight seasons. "So, they had gone through almost like Cleveland Browns-type turmoil. And, Bowden even went 1-11 in his first year."

Too many bowls?
There are roughly 40 college bowl games, which means about 80 out of 128 Division I teams are competing. Since there weren't enough teams with 6-6 records or better, the NCAA had to invite teams with 5-7 records.

So, does winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl with a 7-5 record matter for Akron?

"It's kind of the little exclamation point on a winning season," Pluto says. "I remember after they won their last game, beating Kent rather decisively, which is a big game for them. Because had they lost that game to Kent, they're not going to the Potato Bowl. They're not going to the Ty-D-Bol," he jokes. "This is not a program-changing game. But when you're Akron and it's been 10 years since you've had a winning season, you're glad any bowl wants you."

No longer a joke
And, Terry circles back to Bowden's leadership. "I will give him credit. He came in here;  he's worked hard. He's brought in a lot of local kids. And at least now, Akron football is no longer a joke in the MAC."

And, Pluto says Bowden, at 59, intends to stay at Akron.

"I'm happy for him. He won me over early. And then he won me over by how he worked hard at this job with his assistants. Becuase it's not easy to win in Akron."
LISTEN: Terry Pluto talks about Kyrie Irving's return to the Cavs
Other options:  MP3 Download (6:35)

Related WKSU Stories

Terry Pluto: U of A's new athletic director has the toughest job in town
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pluto: University of Akron cuts baseball - should football be next?
Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pluto: After nearly a decade of losing, Akron football shows progress
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MAC football: Is Akron on the rise while Kent suffers a sharp decline?
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Listener Comments:

Terry, you missed 2 important things you missed. First, it was Akron's first ever bowl win. Second, it was the most successful season (8 win) since going 1A. It's a huge deal to the university.

Posted by: Jenn Grover on December 23, 2015 12:12PM
Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

Stories with Recent Comments

Pluto: The Browns split from Manziel is long overdue
Get Brock Osweiler from the Denver Broncos! He's fantastic and seems like a great person.

Democratic Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld pushes for local gun control
That makes no sense at all... why not let cities determine driving codes as well? Maybe Cincy want's folks to drive on the left side of the road. What could go ...

Exploradio: Autism in the workplace
I would love to get more information re: Autism on The Town and other such programs in Northeast Ohio. Thanks!!

Human trafficking cases rise in Ohio
It is about time this is presented to proceed with a plan of protect our youth.And very necessary to inform communities through school, churches ...

Fermented food company aims to preserve Cleveland's farm-to-table movement
This is terrific! I make my own sauerkraut and consider it vital to good health. Well done, I wish you all success.

Ohio doctors get new guidelines for prescribing certain painkillers
I would gladly smoke pot to get off pain killers but its not legal.It would save the hassle of doctor visits for pill counts,pee tests,blood tests,driving to pi...

Ohio unemployment cuts are nearing a Statehouse vote
What about those that are laid off seasonally? My husband has been employed by the same company for 26 years and has been laid off (for the last 17) mid-Januar...

Ban on microbeads is a big step in fighting plastic pollution
What a bunch of liberal "so open minded their brains fell out" tree huggin yuppies. Professing to be wise they became fools.

Who's on -- and left off -- Ohio's medical marijuana task force?
Biggest joke everm these people are evil they know marijuana is harmless they rigged the polls last nov everypne kmows it

Dayton 'Black Lives Matter' protesters to appear in court today
Police to fast with the trigger finger and not the brain.A lot of police officers out here judge by color first instead of accessing the situation first. If a p...

Copyright © 2019 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University