Bowden Seeks Appeal, Wants Overtime

Bobby Bowden scarcely coaches at Florida State anymore in any function save that of a behatted figurehead. Assistant and coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher handles much of the offseason circuit appearances. His assistants do all of the meaningful coaching. Aside from press appearances and some alumni appearances, Bowden is basically playing the part of 1974 Chairman Mao: in power in name only, but still powerful enough to hold his spot, perhaps even at the expense of his team/nation. ↵

↵He's chosen to stick around both because of the less-than-encouraging results of his most comparable predecessors retiring (see: Bear Bryant) and because of The Record. The Record, written in all caps as a proper noun should be, all 383 wins of it, is the all-time record for wins by a college football coach, the one held by Joe Paterno, fellow geezer and head coach at Penn State. Bowden's current one-game margin may grow to 15 games behind the Nittany Lions octogenarian if FSU is forced to vacate 14 wins for academic improprieties. (A case, it should be noted, self-reported by Florida State that resulted in the suspension of 22 players for the Music City Bowl.) ↵

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↵If that happens, though, never fear. Bowden has a plan. ↵

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↵⇥Meanwhile, Bobby is hatching one final trick play. This one involves digging up what he says are 22 victories earned while he was coach at South Georgia Junior College from 1956-58. Asterisk that, NCAA. ↵
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↵If this happens, I volunteer to throw my entire life savings of 354 dollars into the investment of an Xbox 360 for Joe Paterno. We'll build a team for him, name it after an imaginary college, and then I will allow him to "coach" that team while someone films him beating me on NCAA Football 10 as many times as necessary to ensure Paterno's ownership of the victory, since these wins over me in Xbox football would count just as much towards The Record as Bowden's South Georgia Junior College wins from the '50s. ↵

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↵The saddest part of it is the confusion of what a legacy means, since Bowden is clearly obsessed with the number, but not the other parts of what will add up to his legacy as a football coach. Paterno, in contrast, could care less, and said the same thing when he sat behind Bowden in the count just a few years ago. His name is on the library at Penn State. His team has been the case study for the "Grand Experiment," Paterno's attempt to fuse academics and athletics that has Penn State's football players consistently ranked at the top of the Big Ten in graduation rates. (Northwestern's usually first, but they're also Northwestern.) His contributions to the university extend far beyond the football field, and that is a matter of record, not sentimental mooning over his "meaning." Again: his name is on the library. It doesn't get much more concrete than that. ↵

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↵In contrast, what does Bowden leave behind? A statue of himself pointing outside the stadium, the legal bills from the appeals to the NCAA, and a program he both built over the course of three decades and watched crumble in its fourth decade. There is the number, and the facilities, and two national titles ... and that's it. Even if the NCAA decides to recognize the wins, what Joe Paterno has in the win column on and off the field puts him ahead of Bowden in ways a win column can't ever quantify, and that is a score Paterno likely cares about more than any simple count of wins and losses. ↵

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↵(H/T to Black Shoe Diaries) ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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