Florida State legendary head coach Bobby Bowden alongside former great Ron Simmons was inducted into the Hula Bowl Hall of Fame on Thursday night. The committee also awarded offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons the Joe Roth award, who will be playing alongside defensive lineman Robert Cooper in the 2023 Hula Bowl. The game is set to take place on January 14 in Orlando and will air on CBS at noon.
Bowden, a College Football Hall of Famer, had an incredible career during his 34 years at Florida State, winning 389 games, two national championships, 21 bowl wins, and countless other milestones. Bowden coached in the 1987, 1991, and 1997 Hula Bowls.
Another College Football Hall of Famer, Simmons, had a dominant career as a Seminole amassing 25 sacks and 44 tackles for loss. Simmons, a two-time consensus All-American, played in the 1981 Hula Bowl before spending some time in the NFL and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008. Simmons also had a successful career in the wrestling world and became the WCW world champion in 1992.
Gibbons has become well known in Tallahassee for his on and off-the-field success. He has been an anchoring point on an offensive line blocking for one of the most explosive offenses in the country in 2022.
The Hula Bowl Hall of Fame was founded in 2019 to recognize the greatest collegiate players and coaches to have participated in a Hula Bowl All-Star Game. The Joe Roth Award was established in 2020 to honor Roth’s legacy and his passion for faith, humility and courage. Roth was diagnosed with melanoma prior to his senior year and played the entire 1976 season, including the Hula Bowl, while privately battling the disease. He passed away in February of 1977 just weeks after playing in the Hula Bowl. His No. 12 is the only retired number by the Cal football program.
Bowden, who in 2006 became the first active head coach inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, spent 34 years at the helm of the Florida State program that he resurrected beginning in 1976. He compiled a 389-129-4 (.749) record during his Hall of Fame career and led Florida State to two national championships, including the first season with a wire-to-wire No. 1 in 1999. Bowden finished his career as the second-winningest coach in major college football’s history. His Seminoles dominated in bowl games, posting a 21-9-1 record while setting NCAA records with 10 consecutive bowl wins and 14 straight bowl appearances without a loss. He was the first coach in the history of college football to win at least 10 games in 14 straight seasons and the only coach to lead his team to 14 consecutive finishes in the top-five of the final Associated Press poll. He coached the Hula Bowl in 1987, 1991 and 1997.
Simmons, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2008, is among the greatest defenders in program history. He anchored the center of a defense that took FSU to a pair of Orange Bowl appearances, resulting in the Seminoles’ highest national rankings at that time. A dominating nose guard, Simmons was Florida State’s first two-time Consensus All-American. He totaled an FSU-record 25 sacks and 44 tackles for loss and finished ninth in the 1979 Heisman Trophy vote. He was the first Seminole defender to have his number retired when his No. 50 was recognized by Florida State in 1988. He played in the 1981 Hula Bowl before beginning his professional career that included four seasons of professional football and becoming a WWE legend.
Gibbons, who was voted captain of the 2022 Allstate Good Works Team and won the Wuerffel Trophy and Jim Tatum Award, established a non-profit foundation to raise funds for those in need. His foundation partners with collegiate ambassadors across college football and connects with charitable causes they are passionate about, including those with special medical needs, shopping with children in the community and repairing damage caused by natural disasters. His efforts have resulted in nearly $500,000 being raised to support meaningful causes throughout the college football community.
Gibbons earned first-team All-ACC accolades as he blocked for one of the most explosive and efficient offenses in the country. The St. Petersburg native, who was named the ACC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week following Florida State’s 45-3 win at Miami, helped pave the way for Florida State to rush for more than 200 yards in a school-record-tying seven consecutive games. The Seminoles led the ACC in yards per rush and rushing yards per game, averaging 5.47 yards per carry to rank eighth in the country, and gaining 214.1 yards per game, the 14th-highest average nationally. Florida State’s offense also ranked seventh in the country with an average of 6.96 yards per play, 10th gaining an average of 484.2 yards of total offense per game and 16th with an average of 36.1 points per game. FSU also was first in the ACC and 10th in the country averaging 14.10 yards per completion and second in the ACC and 14th nationally in pass efficiency while posting the country’s fourth-best third-down percentage.
This year’s Hula Bowl, which features Gibbons and FSU defensive tackle Robert Cooper on the roster, takes place Saturday at noon. The game will be played at UCF’s FBC Mortgage Stadium and air on CBS Sports Network.