Like a dry-aging steak, Bobby Bowden's been killing time at Florida State, looking good, slowly evaporating on the inside, and ultimately hanging around until that day when he arrives at the crowning moment of his career and everyone declares him the best they've ever had.
Unfortunately for him, the NCAA appears to have stuck a fork in him early, batting down the Seminole's plea to lessen sanctions imposed over a widespread cheating scandal -- sanctions that docked FSU up to 14 wins in football.
Finally, the light at the end of the eternal Bowden-Paterno brouhaha!
The documents, just released to the public, state Florida State "cannot begin to make its required showing that the vacation of records is ‘excessive such that it constitutes an abuse of discretion’ by the Committee on Infractions," and recommend that their previous judgment be upheld. It's actually quite an impressive smackdown from the generally hesitant and wrist-slappy NCAA (maybe they're just tired of seeing Chief Osceola in their courtroom over and over).
So where does that leave Bowden? Second place.
Even as Florida State struggled in recent years, the old man was respectfully being given some time to complete his race against Joe Paterno for the record for most career victories. It's assumed that as Penn State is a projected top 10 team this season and Florida State is er, rebuilding, even a sanctions-less Bowden would need more than a couple seasons to catch the wily Joe Pa.
That's not likely to happen, since allowing him time to make up 15 wins instead of one would cost Florida State $5 million dollars according to the contract they signed with head-coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher. Fisher, who may not even want the job by then, is due the hefty penalty fee if he is not named head coach by January 11, 2011. While the 'Noles didn't mind forking over a couple hundred thou, they don't have $5 million to waste.
Bowden is essentially being forced to admit it's over. "If you put two and two together, you'll be right [in concluding that he won't coach past 2010],'' Bowden conceded. "My days are limited."
So it appears the record will go to Paterno, and Bowden will ride off into the sunset on a scooter after one of the winningest careers in college football history -- one that doesn't need the record to define it, anyway.
While supporters could say Bowden didn't deserve to be docked 14 games, the ol' ball raisin's 31 victories at little division Samford University shouldn't count, either.Gordon Junior College, University of Mexico, and Tennessee Tech Freshmen? Please. The NCAA didn't mean to, but they've effectively preserved the spirit of the record, if not the law.
And saved us all from having to discuss this ad nauseum for the next two or three years.