University of Akron football coach Terry Bowden was fired Sunday after seven seasons leading the Zips. The team ended the 2018 season with a 4-8 record after a 28-3 loss to South Carolina on Saturday.

“A thorough assessment of the program yielded the decision,” Director of Athletics Larry Williams said. “We need new leadership to take this program to another level.”

It ended a season of amazing highs — an upset win over Big Ten foe Northwestern — and less-than-acceptable lows, including a 21-6 loss to Bowling Green.

Bowden came to UA at the end of the 2011 season with a reputation as an offensive guru, but the Zips have not evolved into a consistently effective offense. UA struggled to score this season, averaging 18.9 points per game, their lowest scoring output in Bowden's tenure as coach.

Given its youth (six underclassmen), the UA offense was bound to struggle, but key injuries to an offensive lineman and a more than two-game stretch without starting quarterback Kato Nelson added to the problems.

Coupled with the fact that the Zips never established a consistent running game, the offense was doomed.

“We’re currently ranked 127th out of 130th in total offense,” Williams said.

Bowden said he is disappointed he won’t be able to finish what he started.

“It saddens me that I will not be able to work through this with my coaches and players,” he said in a prepared statement. “But the university feels it is time to bring in new leadership and a new direction. It’s been one of the greatest joys of my life to come to Akron and build this program, but also for the great relationships I have established.”

Bowden posted a 35-52 record, and although he isn’t the winningest coach in the school’s history, he did have success.

Bowden’s teams made bowls in two of the past four seasons, including a win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2015 over Utah State. He has a 5-2 record against arch rival Kent State.

Williams said the university will use a private firm to conduct a national search for Bowden's replacement.

“I don’t anticipate anyone on the current staff is going to be considered for the head job,” he said.

Williams said he’d like to have a new coach in place in two weeks.

“But I won’t let a timeline force me into making the wrong decision,” he said.

 

George M. Thomas can be reached at gmthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByGeorgeThomas.