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Rich Rodriguez steps in as ULM interim head coach while Terry Bowden tends to ailing father

The Bowden family announced in July patriarch Bobby Bowden is battling terminal pancreatic cancer.

Terry Bowden's first training camp as ULM's head coach will begin with him in Tallahassee, tending to his ailing father, the legendary head coach Bobby Bowden. "I am at peace," the 91-year-old announced in July. 

With Terry Bowden away, Rich Rodriguez will step in as interim head coach as the Warhawks prepare for their Sept. 4 opener at Kentucky.

“The knowledge that with Rich here and us being close, I have no problem turning it over to him because he’s done it almost as long as I have," Bowden told the Monroe News-Star. "I’m comfortable enough in my shoes to let him step in and know that our program will run smoothly.”

The pair have 49 prior seasons of head coaching experience between them. Both began their head coaching careers at Salem University, a Division II school in West Virginia. Bowden went 19-13 from 1983-85, Rodriguez went 2-8 in 1988.

Rodriguez would later serve as Tommy Bowden's offensive coordinator at Clemson from 1999-00, where he would pioneer the zone read offense. 

“It’s going to be a seamless transition,” Rodriguez told the paper. “I’ve got a lot of experience doing it, but I know what he wants and having gone through a spring that makes it easier. Our guys understand how the practice schedule will go and obviously the intensity and urgency to get ready is a lot more now.

“Every day is so valuable but we’ve already got the plan and we’ll execute it.”

Having spent 2019-20 as a GA at Clemson, Bowden was hired Dec. 23 to take over for Matt Viator, who went 19-39 in five seasons, including an 0-10 mark in 2020. Rodriguez last worked in 2019, spending one season as Ole Miss's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. 

In 20 seasons of Sun Belt membership, ULM has posted an above .500 record once, going 8-5 in 2012.