In 1976, Bobby Bowden took over at the helm for Florida State football. Inheriting a team that had gone a combined 4-29 over the previous three seasons, Bowden authored a 5-6 campaign in ’76. Over the next 33 years that he ran the FSU program, he never again had a losing season.
And a big reason for the quick turnaround was another B.B.: Bobby Butler. A defensive back from Delray Beach, Florida, Butler was a four-year contributor for the Seminoles, playing in at least 9 games per season from 1977-1980. FSU improved immediately upon Butler’s arrival, going 10-2 in ’77 and finishing ranked in the AP Poll (14th) for the first time in program history.
Butler helped the ’Noles shutout Cincinnati, Syracuse, LSU, and Louisville (twice) while patrolling the defensive backfield, and his 11 career interceptions are still tied for 11th all-time at FSU. Butler was also an important special teams piece: his five blocked punts remain the most in ’Noles history.
Butler’s biggest year was 1979, a huge breakthrough year for Florida State. His six picks led the Seminoles to an undefeated regular season. Their only blemish came in a bowl loss to Oklahoma, but a No. 6 final AP ranking was the highest in program history to that point. Butler was an All-South Independent second-team choice in ’79, and improved to the first team the following year. He also earned an AP All-American honorable mention in ’79, and climbed to a third-teamer in 1980, when he was a first-team All-American for the Newspaper Enterprises Association.
Back to that quick turnaround accomplished by Bowden: during Butler’s tenure in Tallahassee, the ’Noles were 39-8 and appeared in two Orange Bowls. In 1981, the Atlanta Falcons selected Butler in the first round of the NFL Draft. He had a 12-year pro career, the entirety of it spent in ATL.