Bobby Bowden on Penn State Scandal: I Know How I Hope I Would’ve Handled It

July 13, 2012 – 7:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

Bobby Bowden never encountered a situation like the one faced by fellow legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who of course got word of a situation involving Jerry Sandusky. But Bowden says he hopes he would’ve handled it the right way and made sure that information got into the hands of law enforcement.

That wasn’t the case at Penn State, where we continue to learn more about the scandal seemingly every day. Former FBI director Louis Freeh, hired by university trustees to look further into the matter, released his report Thursday, a scathing indictment that stated university officials, including Paterno, failed to protect against a child sexual predator.

Bobby Bowden joined 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. with LaVar and Chad to discuss how he felt when the reports surfaced of the scandal at Penn State, if he was shocked by the new information released Thursday in the Freeh report, how he might have handled the situation, Penn State not separating Sandusky from football activities, what he thinks the NCAA penalty should be and why Penn State should not drop its football program.

How are you feeling as this Penn State saga continues?:

“Guys that played for Joe and knew Joe can’t picture such a thing, and yet the facts came out. What I didn’t want to hear, I heard. I still have utmost respect for Joe and always will. It just sounds like he made a dad-gum terrible mistake.”

Were you shocked when you heard the reports? Were you operating under the assumption he didn’t have knowledge of what was going on?:

“Yeah, I was shocked that he actually did. Joe did what you’re supposed to do; he took it to the guy above him. That guy should’ve gone to the next guy and it should’ve gone to where it’s supposed to go, but it didn’t go there. And then, after that, it began to fall down, because nobody responded. And yes, when I heard the report today for the first time, that they knew and it was nearly like a coverup, that was shocking.”

How would you have handled the situation if you sent the report up the ranks but nothing was done?:

“All I can say is I know how I hope I would’ve handled it, and that was to be sure it got into the hands of the people it was supposed to get into, and that was the law, the law enforcement, the police. I would hope I would’ve done that. Now I haven’t been in that situation. I can remember so many times in coaching … where something would happen and some of my boys would get in trouble and I would try to keep it quiet. I didn’t want it to get out. Yet, you couldn’t conceal it. In fact, we had a case about five years ago … where we had 25 boys in a class that were getting help on a test. Of course, it was against the rules. We detected it. The NCAA didn’t find out about it. We found out about it and we self-reported it. We reported it to the NCAA and, of course, they took 12 games away from me. … But thank goodness we reported it. That’s the thing Penn State failed to do.”

On Penn State not separating Jerry Sandusky from the team when the situation was first discovered:

“That part there I believe I would’ve done something about. If I had a coach on my staff, the only thing I thought that might save Joe is that he didn’t know about it. But I think the facts came out and said he did know what happened. … But, dad gum, to let that guy come in there in your facility and come in there and take them to ballgames, all I can say is I hope I would’ve done the right thing.”

What do you think the response from the NCAA should be?:

“I don’t know what the NCAA part [is]. They are going to have to decide how much of this affected the football program. … Did Penn State let this happen to gain an advantage on the opponents? If they feel like it did, they probably will take some action. If they feel like, no, this is a criminal case and it doesn’t come under our jurisdiction — which I’m not sure they’ll do that, but they’re liable to. But, I don’t know what action they’re going to take right now on something like that. I know this, the incident I was telling you about … they took action on us and really punished us.”

On people who say Penn State should drop the football program:

“I’m not for that whatsoever. … No, draw a line, draw a line. Today is the 12th of July and that is what happened in the past. Now we’re going to start another football team with another coach and a different administration and we’re going to rebuild the name of Penn State University, which they will do.”

Listen to Bobby Bowden on 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. here

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