Six obscure committee members did what nobody else has been able to do in the legendary coach’s 50 years in the business.
They did what Steve Spurrier couldn’t do.
They did what Howard Schnellenberger couldn’t do.
They did what Tom Osborne, Joe Paterno, Urban Meyer and even Tim Tebow couldn’t do.
They tainted Bobby Bowden’s proud legacy.
And make no mistake about it, Bowden’s place in history is seriously compromised by the NCAA Committee on Infractions report Friday that says FSU must vacate up to 14 football victories that occurred during a massive academic-fraud scandal. With those wins, Bowden is one behind Joe Paterno on the all-time list. If numerous victories are forfeited, the aging Bowden’s chances of surpassing Paterno are destroyed.
Poll question: What most hurt Bobby’s chances of beating out Paterno — the NCAA Committee on Infractions or his son Jeff?
But seriously, it just doesn’t seem fair or right that Bobby Bowden, one of the greatest ambassadors college football has ever known, is being punished more than anyone else in this academic-fraud case. And, worse yet, he’s being punished for the malfeasance of others.
What a disgrace if Bowden has the end of his brilliant career soiled by the stink of this investigation. Especially when it wasn’t of his doing.
Does anybody really believe ol’ Bobby knew some of his players were cheating in an online music course? Heck, Bobby doesn’t know what his players are doing on the field half the time, let alone in the classroom.
Honestly, do you think Joe Paterno himself monitors his players’ academic progress? Pete Carroll? Bob Stoops? George O’Leary?
OK, maybe O’Leary does, but you get my point. The fact is, all major college football programs have thriving academic-support staffs that are under the supervision not of the football coach but of the athletic director. In fact, FSU’s academic-support staff is not even under the supervision of the AD, it’s under the supervision of the university administration.
Granted, Bowden is the CEO of the football program and he is ultimately responsible for what goes on, but can’t the NCAA give a special “Saint Bobby” dispensation in this case? Can’t committee members take into account what Bowden has meant to the game?
“The Committee does not get into a famous athlete or a famous coach who has a record involved,” said committee chairman Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. “The Committee reviews the facts as they are presented and gives no thought whatsoever to a head coach about to break a record.”
Florida State should do everything in its power to clear Bobby’s name and reinstate his victories. If this sanction is allowed to stand, Bowden’s Wikipedia page will always include at least one notation: “Had a chance to become college football’s all-time winningest coach until he had victories wiped out during an NCAA investigation.”
It would be a shame, an absolute shame, if the iconic Bobby Bowden had his magnificent legacy trashed by a scandal he had absolutely nothing to do with.