A person with knowledge of the hire says Akron is set to introduce former Auburn coach Terry Bowden as the Zips head coach after the onetime hot commodity spent the past three seasons at Division II North Alabama. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made. ESPN first reported the hiring.
Bowden has been coaching at North Alabama the past three seasons after a decade-long absence from the sidelines. He was once one of college football's hottest young coaches and won his first 20 games after taking over a probation-racked Auburn program.
He left in midseason in 1998 after the Tigers started 1-5, maintaining ever since that he bolted only after being told by then-trustee Bobby Lowder that he would be fired. During his time out of coaching, Bowden worked as a college football analyst for ABC and hosted a radio show in Orlando.
A member of a prominent coaching clan led by ex-Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, he said upon his hiring at North Alabama that he had been plagued by self-doubt after that abrupt exit at Auburn.
"I think I suppressed so much depression and just unhappiness," Bowden, who interviewed at alma mater West Virginia after Rich Rodriguez left, said at the time. "You wake up for at least 30-45 minutes every day and say, `Could I have done something different? How did that happen?'
"It crushed me. I was probably unable to handle that degree of failure to the degree that it crushed me."
At Akron, he'll replace Rob Ianello, who went 2-22 with only one Mid-American Conference win in two seasons. Bowden spent one season coaching the Zips quarterbacks under Gerry Faust.
The program has lacked stability the past few years. The NCAA stripped the school of scholarships in 2008 for failing to comply with graduation rate policies.
Bowden has led North Alabama to the Division II playoffs in all three seasons with a team stocked with transfers like ex-Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, former Florida State receiver Jarmon Fortson and onetime Georgia Southern starting quarterback Lee Chapple.
The Lions lost 42-17 to Delta State in the second round of the playoffs this season.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland, Ohio, contributed to this report.