CLEVELAND — Akron has hired Terry Bowden as its new football coach Thursday to turn around a woeful program.
Bowden, a onetime hot coaching commodity who spent six seasons at Auburn and the past three at Division II North Alabama, takes over a team than went 2-22 and won just one conference game the past two seasons.
"I'm so excited to be a Zip," said Bowden, who coached Akron's quarterbacks in 1986 under Gerry Faust. "With the great resources and the commitment to winning by the administration and community, it's just a matter of time until we build a championship program."
ESPN first reported Bowden's hiring.
The school will introduce Bowden at a news conference on Dec. 28.
Bowden, the son of famed former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, has been 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.
At Akron, he'll replace Rob Ianello, who went 1-15 in the Mid-American Conference and was fired in November.
"We welcome Terry Bowden back to campus. He brings with him an outstanding record of success and a true football coaching pedigree," said school president Dr. Luis M. Proenza. "We know the entire Akron community will support Coach Bowden in his mission to cultivate a championship program here."
Akron's 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. One of Bowden's first priorities will be making recruiting inroads in Northeast Ohio.
Before taking over at Auburn in 1992, Bowden built successful programs at Salem College (W.Va.) and Samford. When he took the job at Salem in 1983, he was just 26 — the nation's youngest head coach.
Bowden 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.
Bowden has a 140-62-2 record in 18 seasons as a coach.
AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Montgomery, Ala., contributed to this report.