Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno had an ongoing rivalry to see who could outlast the other to top the leaderboard for most wins in a coaching career. Bowden was forced out as head coach of Florida State in 2009 after the Seminoles became a mediocre team. Paterno refused to step down as coach at Penn State, allowing him to surpass Bowden.
In light of being peers and competitors, Bowden has been speaking about the Penn State scandal and has offered some harsh criticism of Paterno’s legacy. He told several radio programs, including Tom Krasniqi of WDAE, that Paterno’s statue should be removed from Penn State.
“If I was Joe Paterno’s family, I would want it taken down,” Bowden told Krasniqi. “Every time they play a game in that stadium, the cameras are going to flash down on that statue of Joe, and it’s going to bring up again this thing with Sandusky. To me, Penn State needs to get that behind them somehow. They gotta pay for the sins — that’s going to cost them a whole lot of money — but every time they see that statue, they’re going to bring that up. I’d hate for his family to have to go through that the rest of their lives.”
His characterization of Paterno’s legacy was equally harsh.
“I”m afraid it’s this [scandal],” Bowden said. “Here’s a guy who spent 60 years ‘doing it the right way.’ Had coaches, compatriots looking up to him, trying to do it his way, and this comes up and erases the whole thing.
“I’ve known Joe since 1962 … we’ve spoke on the phone quite a bit, and I was just shocked that this came up. I just hate what happened. Again, it’s not as bad as what happened to those boys 10 years after it could have been stopped.”
Bowden characterized his reaction to the Freeh investigation’s findings as disappointment.
“I was hoping was that’s not what it would say. I was just hoping that Joe didn’t know everything. I think this Freeh report shows that they did know everything and that they covered it up and that’s terrible and that’s a shame.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry for Joe, I’m sorry for his family, I’m sorry for all of those, but the main sorrow is for all those kids that got molested 10 years after it could have been cut off.”
We agree with Bowden’s assessment. This is the defining mark of Paterno’s legacy, and he should not be memorialized on the campus. Leaving the statue up symbolizes that the school believes he is a role model who did things the right way. What needs to be taught is that winning football games does not matter especially when it comes at the expense of the safety of innocent children.
Below is audio of the interview: