His program mired in an academic fraud scandal, Bobby Bowden isn’t doing himself any favors.
Making his first public comments about the NCAA ruling that could cost him several victories from the 2006 and 2007 seasons, Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden declared Wednesday that the punishment was “too stiff.”
“There are different degrees of doing something wrong,” said Bowden, 79, who finished last season one victory behind Penn State’s Joe Paterno (383-382) on the career wins list for major-college football. “You can go 5 miles over the speed limit. That’s one thing. Or you can go 50 miles over the speed limit, and that’s dangerous.
“It just seems like they’re killing a flea with a hammer.”
FSU turned itself in to the NCAA after a student-athlete reported widespread cheating in an online music class.
Because the case involved two staff members and a graduate assistant tutor, the NCAA Infractions Committee determined that the university should lose scholarships, serve four years’ probation and vacate victories in 10 sports, including football.
So we’ve got wide spread cheating involving two members of his staff and evidently it’s not that big a deal.
If you believe that, then you’ll certainly swallow this.
“The thing about it is that it is not about me, and that is all I really hear from commentators,” he said. “This is about all of our coaches and our teams. I think everyone is putting it on my wins. That is just part of it.”
Right. That’s why the only thing the school is appealing is being stripped of the wins.
Sadly, Diddy’s not the worst actor in this mess. That honor goes to school president T. K. Wetherell, who’s uttered one bizarre comment after another. First, even though it’s not supposed to be about Bowden’s win record (wink, wink), Wetherell had this to say:
Like during his news conference Tuesday when he responded to a column I wrote recently questioning whether the 31 victories a young Bobby Bowden recorded at tiny Division I-AA Howard College (now Samford) should count in his Division I-A win total.
Wetherell referred to that early juncture of Bowden’s career as a time when he coached at a “dipstick (actually, he used an expletive that sounds sort of like dipstick) school.”
That’s beautiful. But there’s more.
Wetherell wasn’t finished, though. Moments after referring to small, Baptist college as a “[dipstick] school,” he used an elaborate hypothetical story involving Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. The story was meant to illustrate Wetherell’s disdain for the way the NCAA handled some aspects of its ruling regarding FSU’s academic fraud case.
“I mean, I figured out how to beat Florida,” Wetherell said. “I told them the other day – I’ve got the deal, man. I got the deal. We’re going to send a graduate assistant down to write a [paper] for Tebow, and go ahead and turn it in.
“And then we’re not going to tell anybody, until about the 15th of August. And we’re going to say, Oh, by the way, look what happened. Urban [Meyer] doesn’t know anything about this – he’s not involved. And the letter according to the NCAA – you think a violation occurred, not that it did occur, you think it occurred, you’ve got to sit him.
“Well, we’ve got the proof, we’ve the [paper], we’ve got the one he turned in, we’ve got the one the graduate assistant [did]. He violated the rules. He’s ineligible … now, they can redshirt him next year, and they may need to do that because they’re going to need a quarterback, anyway, in two years and that may not be a bad idea. But – that’s just not right. I mean, it’s just not right. That’s what’s the problem – it’s just flat wrong.”
This guy is the president of a major university? What’s wrong with this picture?
Academic fraud is a fundamental violation of a school’s primary mission. I can’t think of anything more serious for a university president to have to deal with. Instead of coming off as being properly concerned about the magnitude of the problem, Wetherell reveals himself to be in the grand tradition of former University of Oklahoma president George Gross, who once uttered the immortal phrase, ”We want to build a university our football team can be proud of.”