AKRON Two bowl appearances and the first Division I bowl win in program history weren’t enough for Terry Bowden to earn an eighth season as the head football coach for the Akron Zips.
University of Akron athletic director Larry Williams announced today that Bowden will not return to lead the program in 2019 after a 4-8 season that began well, but ended with a five-game losing streak.
"Certainly, Terry and his staff have brought respectability to the program over the last seven years. However, after undertaking a thorough review of the entire program, and in consultation with the president and board of trustees, it is clear that we need to make a change if we are going to consistently achieve at an even higher level," Williams said, adding that the university will immediately begin a national search for a new head football coach.
In seven seasons at the helm, Bowden posted a 35-52 overall record and 23-33 mark in Mid-American Conference play. The apex of his tenure came in 2015, when the Zips went 8-5 and won the first Division I bowl in program history, a 23-21 triumph over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
However, losing records in two of the next three seasons and a 7-7 campaign in 2017 that ended with a 50-3 rout at the hands of Florida Atlantic in the 2017 Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl proved too much for university officials to bring Bowden back.
"I’ve been told that I would not be retained at The University of Akron," Bowden said. "It saddens me that I will not be able to work through this with my coaches and players. But the university feels it is time to bring in new leadership and a new direction."
Bowden was named the school’s 27th all-time head coach on Dec. 22, 2011. He is just the seventh person to hold the position since 1960 and during the 1986 season, he was an assistant coach for then-head coach Gerry Faust.
His Akron career got off to a difficult start as the Zips went 1-11 in Bowden’s first year at the helm, recording their only win against Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) foe Morgan State. However, seasons of five, five and eight wins the next three years seemed to suggest the program was building toward a major step forward.
Despite not being picked to challenge for the MAC East title this season, Akron began its year by winning its first two games, including a road win over Big Ten West Division champion Northwestern (39-34), the Zips’ first win over a Big Ten opponent in school history.
"It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to come to Akron and build this program, but also for the great relationships I have established. I am blessed to have the greatest fellowship of friends here in this community. I want nothing but the best for the University of Akron and all of Zips Nation."
The 4-8 record and 2-6 mark this season left Akron fifth in the MAC East, just ahead of arch rival Kent State. One of the high points of Bowden’s tenure with the Zips was a 5-2 record against the Golden Flashes, including wins the past three seasons. The existing facilities, which include the massive Stile Athletic Fieldhouse and adjacent Infocision Stadium, remain among the best in the MAC and should be a strong selling point to draw interest from potential candidates.
At Akron, he leaves behind a roster that includes a large group of local athletes, including multiple former Coventry players, headlined by sophomore receiver Dustin Burkhart, who appeared in six games this season on offense and special teams.
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