Coach Not Worried About Scandal's Effect On Coaching Legacy

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden isn't concerned about his legacy being stained

Dec. 29, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Florida State coach Bobby Bowden isn't concerned about his legacy being stained by the school's current academic cheating scandal.

Bowden, whose 373 career coaching wins are two more than Penn State's Joe Paterno, takes the Seminoles into Monday's Music City Bowl game against Kentucky short three dozen players, most of which were involved in the scandal or other team violations. Some of the missing players are hurt.

"I don't think you can ruin my legacy," the 78-year-old coach said Saturday. "How can you ruin it? What I've done, I've done. You can't take it away, can you?"

Kentucky also found it'll be without two key players against Florida State. Wildcats coach Rich Brooks called receiver Keenan Burton "highly doubtful" to play because of a knee injury and announced guard Jason Leger, the team's top lineman, has been suspended for the game for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

The record is impressive. Bowden has won two national titles, a dozen Atlantic Coast Conference championships and perhaps the most impressive statistic of all - an unprecedented 14 straight seasons of 10 or more wins and top-five finishes in the AP poll.

There is, however, little question that the reputation of the folksy Alabama-born Bowden has taken some hits in recent years. Bowden's decision to promote his youngest son, Jeff, to offensive coordinator in 2001, despite a school policy designed to prevent nepotism, was closely scrutinized from the onset.

After a half dozen seasons with the offense in decline, the younger Bowden was bought out by boosters in 2006 shortly before the entire offensive staff was cashiered.

Jimbo Fisher was then brought in last January and has already been designated as Bowden's heir apparent.

"You don't ever succeed a legend," Fisher said after Saturday's long, chilly practice at a nearby high school. "Those guys don't come along, that's why nobody's done what he's done."



The cheating scandal, which stemmed from an online exam, has already resulted in an athletic department academic adviser being forced out along with a graduate student tutor. It mushroomed this month with the school's suspension of players after an investigation by the school.

The way Bowden has handled the latest crisis has impressed Fisher.

"He turns every adverse situation into opportunity for someone else," Fisher said. "What else can you do?"

"You've have to figure out how to succeed with it and that's the way he goes about it," Fisher said.

Bowden claims the coaches knew little or nothing about the issue until late summer when two players were suspended for acknowledging their roles.

His legacy, he said, is for others to determine.

"I don't even worry about that," he said. "As long as I'm honest and do the best I can do, I can't worry about that."