Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bobby Bowden gets his comeuppance

The NCAA brought down the gauntlet Friday on Florida State for its widespread academic scandal, announcing that the school will be stripped of scholarships in 10 sports, will be placed on four years' probation and must "vacate" all records (including wins) from games in which ineligible athletes participated.

Not exactly a slap on the wrist, but not exactly an SMU-style execution, either. There's little long-term impact outside of the scholarship losses, and even those are minimal -- six football scholarships over the next three years, a minor chip out of the standard limit of 85.

But there's one guy who probably isn't too happy: Bobby Bowden. As has been widely noted, Bowden would have entered the season with 382 career wins, just one behind Joe Paterno as the all-time winningest FBS coach.

But now:

... the instant a player cheated in class -- regardless of whether school officials knew about it -- he became ineligible, and if that athlete played in a game, it must be vacated. That could cost FSU games from 2006, when the academic fraud began.
Assuming that the NCAA holds to that ruling, and that the Seminoles will be forced to vacate all their wins from 2006 and 2007 (seven each year), Bowden will be stripped of 14 victories. And at his age, with Jimbo Fisher waiting in the wings ... unless the NCAA gives in on appeal (which is possible), the victory race is probably over. With a 15-win lead, it's smooth sailing for Paterno. The only question now is whether he'll get to 400.

I can't feel too sorry for Bowden, though. Florida State has been a bastion of questionable activity for years, dating back to the days of the Criminoles and Free Shoes University. We all knew this was coming; it was only a matter of time.

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