Florida State is not facing the death penalty, but its recent rules infractions may yet kill Bobby Bowden's chance at beating Penn State coach Joe Paterno for the NCAA record in career wins. With 382 wins in the bag, Bowden trails Paterno by one on the all-time list, but that deficit may increase if the NCAA vacates 14 or more wins that the Seminoles won with ineligible players who benefitted with academic fraud.
As Dennis Dodd writes, "The sanctity of the coaching wins mark in college football is comparable to baseball's home run record. Now both marks might be stained by asterisks and wrongdoing. However, in this case, it is an institution's wrongdoing (FSU), not an individual's (Bowden)."
While the Paterno Library will stand on campus long after the Brooklyn-bred coach leaves State College, Pa., it is the failure of his program's academic oversight that may forever follow the iconic Bowden into retirement. For a school that has registered seven major rules infractions, the absorption of another black eye from the NCAA.
As much heat as Paterno drew for his players' off-field behavior last summer, Bowden's players appear to have left him vulnerable in the NCAA's court. Surely the septuagenarian did not spearhead the circumvention of any rules, but he must be held responsible for his players' transgressions. If that means vacating wins, then that is what the NCAA does, whether it costs the living legend the sport's holy grail or not.
Asterisk may make Bowden's wins chase an ugly race [CBSSports.com]
Paterno deserves the record [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Stripping wins from Bowden too steep a punishment [St. Petersburg Times]