Bobby Bowden Says He Can’t Celebrate Being the All-Time Winningest Coach in FBS History Now

July 24, 2012 – 9:20 am by Chris Fedor

The NCAA dropped the hammer on Penn State yesterday, delivering unprecedented and historic sanctions against the Nittany Lions football program in the wake of the heinous sex abuse scandal rocked Happy Valley. On top of a four year bowl ban, lost scholarships, a 60 million dollar fine and probation, the NCAA also made it clear that they didn’t want Joe Paterno to be the all-time winningest coach in FBS history as they took away all wins from the program between 1998 and 2011. With that move, Paterno went from number one on the list all the way down to number 12. The main beneficiary, if you can even call him that in the wake of this scandal, is Bobby Bowden. The former Florida State coach now holds the record for most wins at the FBS level.

Bobby Bowden joined WQAM in Miami with Dan Sileo to talk about when he heard about the Penn State sanctions, whether he would’ve done more than what Joe Paterno did to protect the children that were being molested, how he will remember Paterno, if he thinks coaches in college football have too much power, whether he thinks the penalties were too harsh against Penn State and if he thinks Penn State will be able to recover from this.

On when he heard about the Penn State sanctions:

“I was playing golf this morning and right about 9:00 had heard no news on anything and after we had played about nine holes some guy drives out on the golf course in a cart and hands me about four or five phone calls that I’m supposed to make. I’m asking him what it’s about and he says it’s about the NCAA and Penn State so he told me what happened and it was the first time I heard it. We went ahead and played nine. My life doesn’t change and it’s not something I can celebrate. I wish I could celebrate it but I can’t. It’s not much of an issue when you consider what happened at Penn State. Until those young men have had their day in court and until some kind of closure I can’t enjoy what has happened.”

Whether he would’ve done more than what Joe Paterno did to protect the children that were being molested:

“I know what I hope I would’ve done. If I didn’t do what was right I’d be in trouble. I hope I would’ve seen it through and I probably would have done what Joe did and report it to my Athletic Director. Then if that was the last I heard of it I believe I would’ve had to go ahead and call the law myself. Again I haven’t been there but that what I hope I would do.”

How he will remember Joe Paterno:

“I choose to remember him the way I knew him. I’ve known Joe since 1952 and he and I had spent a lot of time together on these Nike conventions. We spent a week together out of the country and because of our age I stayed close to him. When I think of Joe Paterno I will think of the times, the many discussions we had and I will think of the times and the dinners we had together with his wife, my wife and I choose to look at it that way. In no way am I easing off what happened to those young men and what Sandusky did but again if I’m going to remember somebody that’s the way I’m going to remember Joe.”

Whether college coaches have too much power:

“They do if the President lets him. If the President is going to let them they will. Football has no business getting ahead of academics at the University. If a coach can be the number one spokesman for the University that is the President’s fault.”

How tough it is for the coaches to monitor athletes with everything that they do:

“That’s exactly right. We don’t go to class with them and now we know what happens on the football field and we know what they tell us but this was a class where somebody was calling out the answers and let me say this, it was a music class and most people didn’t need anybody helping them. Every kid that got help had to say ‘yes somebody told us the answers on these questions’ so we suspended 25 guys. It’s not like the NCAA caught us doing something. We caught it ourselves and turned ourself into them. We suspended 25 boys from four games and lost three of them. Then they hit me with 12 darn ball games. I didn’t think that was right but that was their call, they’re the NCAA. I didn’t know what they would do in Penn State’s case, but I had the feeling it was going to be pretty tough because of the way they were talking. I didn’t hear the results until about 10 or 11 o’clock.”

If he thinks the NCAA went overboard with their punishment against Penn State:

“I don’t think they went overboard and here’s why. I think overboard would be been suspending the football team, couldn’t play games. That will put you on the shift. Taking away 40 scholarships, four years without a bowl and those suspensions as far as football is concerned that will really set Penn State back but at least they can still play, the boys can still play if they want to and try to build their reputation back up. It’s like anybody who breaks a law and goes to jail once they get through they have to remake themselves and set a new standard. It takes years and years and years and years before people will come close to forgetting.”

Whether he thinks Penn State will recover from this scandal:

“I think they’ll eventually recover. SMU recovered. How long it takes I have no idea but they’re too big and too good and has too much quality to it to let it kill them.”

Listen to Bobby Bowden on WQAM in Miami here

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