QUINCY, Fla. — Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said Monday the NCAA’s unprecedented punishment of Penn State’s football program “cannot replace those boys who were molested.”
The penalties included the vacating of 112 wins, 111 of which were credited to Penn State’s late coach Joe Paterno. The move retroactively established Bowden as the official NCAA career leader among major-college coaches with 377 wins. Paterno’s official total going forward in the NCAA annals will be 298 wins.
“I didn’t want it to happen like this,” the 82-year-old Bowden said. “Wish I could have earned it, but that’s the way it is.”
Bowden’s total once stood at 389, but was reduced by a dozen as the result of an academic scandal at Florida State in the 2006 and 2007 school year which was self-reported by the university.
Bowden’s successor at Florida State, 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 imposed on Penn State by the NCAA also included fines of $60 million, orders for the school to sit out the postseason for four years, a cap on scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years, and five years’ probation for the football program.
“The penalties are bad, but what happened was bad,” Bowden said after finishing an 18-hole round of golf at the picturesque Golf Club of Quincy, about 30 miles northwest of Tallahassee. “There’s not enough money to make up for what happened.”
Former Florida State fullback William Floyd, who won a national championship ring blocking for Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward in 1993 and then a Super Bowl ring the next season with the San Francisco 49ers, said Bowden deserves to be at the top of the list.
“I was elated, happy for him,” Floyd said. “Things work out. I think that’s what happened today.”
Former Central Florida coach Gene McDowell, who played for the Seminoles in the early 1960s, said he was happy for Bowden sitting at No. 1 although 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,” Bowden said.
He also said he and his wife, Ann, would likely reach out to Paterno’s widow, Sue, at some point in the future.
“I just don’t know when would be the proper time,” Bowden said.