Saturday, January 20, 2018
Colleges

Bobby Bowden isn't celebrating passing Penn State's Joe Paterno for wins record

On Monday, former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden became the winningest coach in Division I-A history. He couldn't have been sadder.

One of the penalties the NCAA levied against Penn State was forcing the school to vacate all its wins from 1998, when coach Joe Paterno and other top university officials became aware of an accusation that assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had showered with a young boy, through 2011.

Penn State lost 112 wins, one of which came after Paterno was fired. Paterno was docked 111 wins, from 409 to 298. Bowden, with 377 victories, is now No. 1. Late Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson has the overall Division I record of 408.

"There's no rejoicing in the Bowden household," said Bowden, who retired in 2009. "The most important matter is the young men who suffered. I won't be able to enjoy it under the circumstances.

"The fact I knew Joe personally, I'm probably like a lot of the kids who played for him. I hate it for Joe and his family, but the worst part is what happened to those kids and what Jerry Sandusky did."

Bowden's total once stood at 389 but was reduced by a dozen as the result of an academic scandal at FSU in 2006-07 which was self-reported by the university.

Bowden's successor at FSU, Jimbo Fisher, said Monday that he believes his former mentor won't revel in his new status.

"He won't take any glory in doing that," Fisher said. "He still has thoughts and prayers with the victims of the situation at Penn State."

The sanctions also included $60 million in fines, a four-year bowl ban and a loss of scholarships.

"The penalties are bad, but what happened was bad," Bowden said after finishing an 18-hole round of golf at the Golf Club of Quincy, about 30 miles northwest of Tallahassee. "There's not enough money to make up for what happened."

Former FSU fullback William Floyd, who won a national championship ring blocking for Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward in 1993 then a Super Bowl ring the next season with the 49ers, said Bowden deserves to be at the top of the list.

"I was elated, happy for him," the St. Petersburg native said. "Things work out. I think that's what happened" Monday.

Former UCF coach Gene McDowell, who played for the Seminoles in the early 1960s, said he was happy for Bowden if saddened by the circumstances.

"I'm happy for him and Florida State, as well," said McDowell, who spent a few years as an assistant under Bowden. "Nobody ever likes to see good people get in trouble. It's too easy for good people to get in trouble."

Bowden, meanwhile, had his thoughts on Penn State and the Paterno family. "It's something they'll be glad to get over with up there," he said.

He also said he and his wife, Ann, would likely reach out to Paterno's widow, Sue. "I just don't know when would be the proper time," Bowden said.

Former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said he was pleased his father's legacy would now include the record for wins but echoed the notion that no celebrations were in order.

"His record speaks for itself, and it's my father so you'd like to be happy for him," Tommy Bowden said. "But under the circumstances, it pales in comparison to how significant those problems are and the lives that have been affected."

Meanwhile, Penn State officials, who put a gag order on players, were engaged in damage control. Even before the news hit, one recruit had decommitted.

"I think it's going to be a great case study in perseverance," former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said.

The players on Penn State's roster can transfer immediately. The door to leave the program will remain clear throughout their careers. By 2014, the Nittany Lions will have 65 scholarship compared to the normal 85.

Coach Bill O'Brien's initial public response was to show resolve.

"I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead," the first-time head coach said in a statement. "But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes."

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