John D. Bridgers
John D. Bridgers
Full Name:  John D. Bridgers
     Died:  November 24, 2006 in Albuquerque, NM

FSU Career
Coaches & Administrators

Athletic Director
Year  Hgt  Wgt  Cl  Ltr  Hometown

Elected into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1990
As Florida State's Athletic Director from 1973 to 1979, John Bridgers achieved many things for the Seminole Athletic Department, leading it from mediocrity to the top of the ladder. Named to the prestigious NCAA Division IA Steering Committee during his time at FSU, Bridgers instigated and worked to conclusion the cancellation of a $370,000 debt on Doak S. Campbell Stadium as well as many other outstanding debt responsibilities. He was primarily responsible for FSU's admission to the Metro Conference. In addition, Bridgers made the decision to schedule night home football games which increased attendance by almost 100 percent and brought Auburn, Georgia Tech, South Carolina and Tulane to the football schedule. Under Bridgers, Bobby Bowden was brought in as the Head Football Coach. During his tenure with FSU, the Seminole football team went from an 0-11 record in 1973 to an 11-1 mark and a trip to the Orange Bowl in 1979. In the 1977-78 season, the football, basketball, and baseball teams all received post-season invitations, a feat claimed by only one other school that year and few in college athletic history. In addition he saw cross-country, indoor and outdoor track and field, and golf Metro Conference Championships. Bridgers was the unquestioned leader during a period of Florida State's greatest leap in college athletic stature nationwide.
From the Tallahassee Democrat
Originally published November 26, 2006
Former FSU AD Bridgers dies at 84
Hired Bobby Bowden to coach 'Noles

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - John Bridgers, the athletic director who hired Bobby Bowden as head coach at FSU, restored a scandalized University of New Mexico Athletic Department and, as head football coach, brought an exciting pro-style offense to Baylor University in the 1960s, died Friday. He was 84.

Bridgers had been in declining health for many years, and according to his son Don, slipped peacefully away on Friday afternoon. He had resided in Albuquerque since returning to New Mexico from Florida in 2004.

As athletic director at Florida State (1973-79), Bridgers hired Bobby Bowden as head football coach. Bowden has the most career wins of any NCAA Division I football coach in history and has won two national championships. Bridgers took over a program that had a 0-11 record and turned it into an 11-0 record and an Orange Bowl bid. He was named to the Florida State Sports Hall of Fame as a result of his contribution to the FSU program.

Bridgers was athletic director of the University of New Mexico for seven years (1979-86). He took a program that had been put on NCAA probation and brought it back to respectability, financial stability and pride by hiring an outstanding coaching staff in all sports, including football coach Joe Morrison, who had a 10-1 record, and men's basketball coach Gary Colson, who had four 20-win seasons and now coaches with the NBA Memphis Grizzlies.

Bridgers also served as head football coach and athletic director of Baylor University for 10 years (1959-68), establishing himself as one of the game's top innovators by introducing a wide-open, pro-style offense and producing two-time NCAA passing champion Don Trull, Ronnie Bull (who would later become NFL rookie of the year) and consensus All-American Lawrence Elkins. During his tenure at Baylor, his teams won two out of three bowl games and had the third-best win-loss record for 10 years in the Southwest Conference behind Darrell Royal of Texas and Frank Broyles of Arkansas.

Bridgers was named to the Athletic Directors of America Hall of Fame for his contributions in turning around the athletic programs at FSU and UNM. He was also inducted into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1990, the Alabama Sport Hall of Fame in 1998, National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics in 1991 and the Baylor University Sports Hall of Fame.

Bridgers is survived by his sons, Donald Hamilton Bridgers of Albuquerque and John Dixon Bridgers III of Jacksonville, as well as by two grandsons, Daniel, a student at UNM, and Aaron, a senior at Eldorado High in Albuquerque, and by three granddaughters, Ashley and Lucy, who reside in the Washington D.C. area and Leslie, who works and lives in Nashville, Tenn.

In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, 8701 Leeds Road, Kansas City, MO 64129-1680.

From the Tallahassee Democrat
Originally published November 28, 2006
Ensley: Bridgers launched FSU sports into the big time
By Gerald Ensley

The passing of former Florida State Athletic Director John Bridgers last Friday is a reminder of several things.

One is that age catches us all. Bridgers was a gruff, physically strong man with a keen intellect. He was the defensive coach who helped mastermind the Baltimore Colts' 23-17 victory over the New York Giants in the famous 1958 NFL championship, the "greatest game ever played." He led a pivotal period of FSU sports growth from 1973 to 1979, when the program went from regional wannabe to national power. He hired football coach Bobby Bowden and women's Athletic Director Barbara Palmer (and was maybe proudest of hiring the innovative Palmer). Yet not even Bridgers, 84, could escape the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.

His passing is a reminder of how often FSU has turned to Alabama for athletic leadership. Three FSU athletic directors - Vaughn Mancha, Hootie Ingram and the current Dave Hart - were star athletes at the University of Alabama. Bridgers, a high-school teammate of Mancha, played football at Auburn. Between them, former Alabama athletes have guided FSU athletics for 39 years and counting.

But mainly, Bridgers' passing is a reminder of how the scale of FSU sports has grown.

He led an FSU athletics-administration staff of six people, including himself. The staff was housed in a warren of offices behind the ticket counter in Tully Gym. Bridgers' small office had a desk and a couple of chairs. His secretary, Dee Frye Davis, played gatekeeper from a desk wedged in a cubbyhole.

"Our athletic offices may have been the most rundown and shabbiest among major colleges in the country," Bridgers wrote in his 1995 book, "What's Right With Football."

You could have said similar things about all FSU athletic facilities in 1973. Campbell Stadium was a pair of steel grandstands that held 40,000 fans. The baseball field was encircled by a chain-link fence. The weight room was a rusting collection of free weights in the Tully Gym basement. Women's sports were played wherever the men left room.

But then you blink and it's 2006. And you say, "Wow!"

You can't drive down Gaines Street without being overwhelmed by the colossus that is Campbell Stadium, holding 80,000 spectators, classrooms, offices, banquet rooms, skyboxes and more. Baseball is played in a classic brick stadium. Most FSU women's sports have their own facilities. The athletic-administration staff runs to nearly 60 people and occupies three floors of the Moore Athletic Center. Hart has a sumptuous corner office; his secretary, Judy Greve, has an office bigger than Bridgers' old digs. In Tully Gym, the swimming and diving coaches take up the former athletic-administration suite.

It's a long way from John Bridgers to today's FSU athletics - which is worth remembering.

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