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July 27, 2009

Bowden won't trade scholarships for lost wins

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Florida State coach Bobby Bowden doesn't want the NCAA to give him back his 14 vacated wins if it means the Seminoles must give up scholarships in exchange.

Florida State is appealing the NCAA's decision to take 14 of Bowden's victories away as part of the penalty for an academic cheating scandal. The penalty would make it extremely difficult for Bowden to pass Penn State's Joe Paterno as the winningest coach in major college football history.

"If they say, 'Coach, we're going to let you have those wins back, but we're going to take away three scholarships,' I won't [want] that," Bowden said Monday at the ACC Media Days gathering at the Grandover Resort and Conference Center.

Bowden also reiterated his criticism of the NCAA's decision.

"It doesn't seem fair to me," he said. "And I have to think that the decision was made by somebody who doesn't have the awareness of what's going on in that regard."

Bowden wants those vacated wins reinstated - just not at the expense of the program's future.

"I don't want my kids to suffer one game so that I can get my [wins] back," Bowden said. "The NCAA doesn't have to do that."

Bowden, who turns 80 on Nov. 8, enters his 34th season at Florida State - and 44th year overall - with a 382-123-4 record if the NCAA reinstates those 14 victories. That would put him one win behind Paterno, who enters his 44th season at Penn State with a 383-127-3 mark.

If the NCAA reinstates those wins, Bowden still has a realistic shot at passing Paterno. Bowden otherwise has little chance unless he continues coaching after Paterno's retirement, which seems an unlikely scenario now that offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher already has been named the Seminoles' coach-in-waiting while Penn State has no succession plan in place.

"It's worth fighting for but not dying for," Bowden said. "If they let us have them, good. If they don't, I won't lose any sleep over it, but I'd be mad at somebody."

Bowden also addressed the following other topics in a wide-ranging discussion:

His potential retirement date. "The one thing I've avoided discussing with any of them is the day I plan to retire, the year I plan to retire," Bowden said. "I say I'll let you know after each season. I just haven't spelled that out to anybody."

Arriving at Media Days this year without his son Tommy on hand as Clemson's coach. "It does seem funny," Bowden said. "Who's going to give me a dang wakeup call? Who's going to tell me, 'Let's go eat.' Who's going to tell me what time the meeting is?"

The legacy of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who will face Florida State on Nov. 28 in his final career home game. "Tebow's the best leader I've ever seen," Bowden said. "I mean, he is a leader." Is he a better leader than former Florida State quarterback and 1993 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward? "Charlie just did it on the field," Bowden said. "This guy, he will jack guys up if they don't do what he says. You can see him in there [yelling at them]. Charlie would never do that. [Former Florida State quarterback and 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris] Weinke might, but not Charlie."

Longtime nemesis Steve Spurrier's inability to match his Florida success at South Carolina. "I don't know if he's had the quarterback he wants yet," Bowden said. "He hadn't had a [Danny] Wuerffel. I don't think he has. From what I've seen, he hasn't been completely satisfied with what he's playing [at quarterback]. I see him bouncing around a lot. I'm going to tell you what he's going to do. One of these days, he's going to get that guy under center and he's going to get that one great [receiver] out there and it's going to happen. He's as good at that as anyone I know. Give him one great quarterback and one great receiver, and let him work out an offense."

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.

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