Bobby Bowden was playing golf when he learned that he now has more victories than any other major college football coach.
The former Florida State coach told ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” show that he was about halfway through his round when “a guy came driving out in the middle of the dadgum golf course” to tell him that the NCAA had stripped Joe Paterno of 111 victories in the punishment handed Penn State in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Paterno now has 298 victories, Bowden 377. Eddie Robinson, the Grambling coach who died in 2007, is the Division I leader with 408, one fewer than Paterno’s pre-penalty total.
“There’s no rejoicing in our household over it,” Bowden, 82, said Tuesday on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” show (listen here), repeating his reaction from Monday.
“The fact I knew Joe personally [since 1952], I'm probably like a lot of the kids who played for him,” Bowden said Monday. “I hate it for Joe and his family, but the worst part is what happened to those kids and what [former assistant] Jerry Sandusky did.”
Sandusky is awaiting sentencing after his conviction on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse, and Bowden preferred that the focus remain on the victims. “Nobody would want to have a title given to him this way,” he said in a statement issued Monday. “No sanctions, no amount of money, and no penalties could ever repay or repair the damage done to those young boys. I just hate the way all of this has happened.
“Nothing that has transpired today has changed what our teams accomplished over the years one bit. All of this attention and focus should be on the innocent victims of this tragedy.”
Twelve victories were taken from Bowden’s record by the NCAA in 2009 after an investigation into cheating at FSU. Bowden addressed the culture of big-time football and the matter of just how much power a winning football coach — like Paterno at Penn State — wields over administrators.
“To me, if a coach can rule a university or the president, you’d better get another president. You’d better get another board of trustees because they cannot let that happen,” Bowden said. “It don’t [sic] work and this shows it. ...
“I never did care about power. I wanted wins. I just wanted to win. ‘Leave me alone. Let me win.’ But I didn’t want to dictate policy for our university. I don’t know of any other cases [in which] that’s happening, but I’ll bet you this, I’ll bet you this: After today, it ain’t going to happen because everybody sees what can happen. ... Reminds me of the guy ... the income tax [collector] called the preacher and says, ‘You got a John Smith in your church. Does he tithe?’ [And the preacher says] ‘Well, I’m not sure, but he will.’ ”
Document: Penn State’s NCAA sanctions
Campus Overload: Paterno library keeps its name