Furman University

2013 Furman Football Yearbook

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Page 33 of 209

2013 FURMAN PALADINS FOOTBALL HEAD COACH BRUCE FOWLER N amed Furman University's new head football coach on Dec. 13, 2010, Bruce Fowler, is busy applying his stamp to a Paladin football program he has served for 24 of his 33 seasons in the collegiate ranks as a player, assistant coach, and now head coach. Furman went 6-5 in Fowler's first campaign, demonstrating a return to physical play and renewed confidence evidenced in the Paladins' 26-21 triumph over FCS fifth-ranked Wofford and 20-10 win against third-ranked Appalachian State that halted a frustrating six-game series losing skid to the Mountaineers. The Paladins endured a tough 2012 season, but a strong recruiting class, combined with the construction of the PearceHorton Football Complex, the program's new 44,000-square foot operational home at Paladin Stadium due for completion this fall, has Fowler and Furman fans everywhere excited about the program's future. Academic excellence, for decades a hallmark of Paladin football, will continue as a signal priority under Fowler, whose program registered its second straight fifth place ranking in the NCAA Division 1 Graduation Success Rate (GSR) announced in October of 2012. Furman's 97 percent GSR trailed only the Ivy League's Columbia (100), Dartmouth (100), and Yale (98), and was tied with Cornell, Northwestern, Notre Dame, and Penn. A Cincinnati, Ohio, native who served as an assistant coach on the Paladin staff for 18 years before spending nine seasons in the capacities of defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Vanderbilt University, Fowler is the 22nd head coach in the history of Furman football, which dates from 1889. Upon Fowler's appointment, athletics director Dr. Gary Clark detailed many notable qualities the new Paladin mentor brought to the program, including "outstanding leadership ability, a strong work ethic and proven track record of player development, plus impeccable integrity that we are confident will be a positive and motivating influence on our players, program, university, and Greenville community." While at Vanderbilt, Fowler directed defenses that laid the groundwork for success the program had not enjoyed in a quarter century. In 2008 Vanderbilt, aided by a Commodore defense that ranked 15th nationally in pass defense, 21st in scoring defense, and 30th in total defense, opened the campaign with a five-game winning streak, including a September victory over South Carolina and a 14-13 thriller over Auburn with ESPN's popular College GameDay show broadcasting from the Nash- ville campus. After the Auburn win, the Commodores were helped pave the way for a brilliant three-year run that netted ranked No. 13 by the Associated Press, its highest ranking in a 30-9 record, including a 28-3 victory over North Carolina in more than 50 years. Vanderbilt went on to post its first winning 1999, SoCon championships in 1999 & 2001, three playoff apseason since 1982, and only its the fourth winning season since pearances, and 12-3, national runner-up finish in '01. 1959, by going 7-6 and recording a 16-14 triumph over Boston In both 2000 & '01 linebacker Will Bouton, considered one College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl. It marked the of the finest defenders in Furman history, garnered both SoCon first bowl victory by a Commodore squad since the 1955 Gator Defensive Player of the Year and All-America honors. In addiBowl. tion, in 2001 NCAA I-AA semifinal round playoff action Fowler's Other team highlights during Fowler's tenure at Vander- Paladin defense slammed the door on Georgia Southern's triple bilt included a 28-24 triumph over Tennessee in 2005, which option attack in a 24-17 victory over the Eagles in Statesboro, snapped a 23-game losing skid to the Volunteers and marked snapping the Eagles' NCAA record 39-game home winning the Commodores' first victory in Knoxville since 1975; the streak and handing GSU its first ever home playoff game deschool's first victory over a ranked road foe, a 24-22 decision feat. over No. 16 Georgia in 2006; and a 17-6 win at No. 6 South Caro- He departed Furman following the 2001 season, accepting lina in 2007 — the first triumph over a Top 10-ranked foe in 33 the defensive coordinator position at Vanderbilt under Johnson. years and program's highest ranked victim since 1937. In terms of player development, five former Commodore de- Fowler earned all-conference honors as a defensive back at fenders during the Fowler tenure — Myron Lewis, D.J. Moore, Cincinnati's Mariemont High School before joining the Paladin Jonathan Goff, Jovan Haye and Hunter Hillenmeyer — were program as a walk-on in 1977 under Art Baker. He lettered selected in the National Football League (NFL) Draft, and nine two years as a cornerback and was a member of Furman's first different Vanderbilt defenders earned All-Southeastern Confer- SoCon championship team in 1978 coached by Dick Sheridan. He started as a junior, racking up 35 tackles and a team leadence honors during Fowler's tenure. In addition to the improvement in on-the-field competi- ing three interceptions, and as a senior in 1980 helped Furman tiveness, Vanderbilt's football program was recognized nation- notch its second league crown. ally by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) as the He graduated in 1981 with a degree in physical education recipient of the organization's Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and began his coaching career as an assistant at nearby Wren 2008 Academic Achievement Award for highest graduation rate (S.C.) High School, remaining there for three years before returning to Furman in 1984 as a graduate assistant. He later (95 percent) for freshmen entering in 2001. Fowler paved the way for his move to Vanderbilt and the earned an M.A. in education from the university. Southeastern Conference (SEC) with a 16-year assistant coach- Fowler and his wife, Lindy '83, a native of Ocala, Fla., have a ing tenure at Furman that helped produce one of the greatest son, Jake, a freshman at Furman, and a daughter, Maddie, who eras of football achievement in school history, including a attends Wade Hampton High School. 146-70-3 record (.674), 1988 NCAA I-AA national championship, eight Southern Conference (SoCon) championships, and nine playoff appearances. He began his collegiate coaching career in 1984 as a graduate assistant under Dick Sheridan and was on staff in the same capacity the following year when Furman went 12-2, defeated N.C. State (42-20) for a second consecutive season, won the SoCon championship, and finished as national runner-up. In 1986 he was promoted to full-time as receivers coach under new head coach Jimmy Satterfield. In that role he oversaw the development of six All-SoCon performers, including wide receiver Donald Lipscomb, who played a pivotal role in the Paladins going 13-2 and winning the 1988 NCAA I-AA championship, as well as three straight SoCon titles (198889-90). In 1993 he made the switch to defense, taking over the Paladin secondary. In five seasons in that capacity Fowler directed the fortunes of a half dozen allconference performers, including SoCon Defensive Player of the Year and AllAmerica free safety John Keith, a fourth round selection by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2000 NFL Draft. Furman head coach Bobby Johnson promoted Fowler to defensive coordinator and put him charge of the Paladin The Fowlers (l-r): Lindy, Jake, Bruce, and Maddie linebackers in 1999 — a move that Furman 32 Paladins

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