- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2000

"If a kid commits murder, I have to let him go."
Florida St. coach Bobby Bowden

NEW ORLEANS - It's good to know that Florida State has standards.
Bowden was in rare form yesterday in the final news conference before tonight's Sugar Bowl showdown between FSU and Virginia Tech for the national championship, which has become the Bobby Bowden show in the 1990s.
"In 1993 [the year FSU won the national championship with an 18-16 win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl] we had gone seven years in a row being close but never getting it," Bowden said. "So when we won it, it was a bigger relief than anything else. Now it's been six or seven years and everybody is saying, 'He's only got one … but he's so old.' I've made everyone else a national champion. I made [Tennessee coach Phillip] Fulmer one, I made [Florida coach Steve] Spurrier one. It's time I got another one."
Don't feel too sorry for Bowden if he loses again tonight to Virginia Tech. Even in losing the big games, the national spotlight has fattened Bowden's wallet he received a $75,000 bonus just for getting his team to the Sugar Bowl. But it also has tarnished his image. With the trouble his players have gotten into, he's gotten a reputation as the Jerry Tarkanian of college football.
Bowden bristled at the notion that his quest to keep FSU the winningest program of the 1990s at the top has come at the expense of being a reputable program.
"We recruit the same kids as we did 20 years ago when we won the Sunday school award," Bowden said. "I did bad things when I was young. If I told you some of the things I did when I was a kid, they wouldn't let me back here. You did bad things when you were young. The difference is everybody knows about it now. If you don't want other people to know, don't be number one. Be number 50. I've learned that."
Does being No. 1 mean never having to say you're sorry? For anything? And does Bowden really believe that the media are the difference between the off-field problems of the 50th-ranked team and the top-ranked team?
Speaking of Sunday school, Bowden held court the day before at the First Baptist Church of Covington, invited to give a sermon by the local minister. I doubt if the congregation heard anything about Bowden's rules against murder.
This is what happens when you live in a world where you are treated as royalty. Jeb Bush may be governor of Florida, but Bobby Bowden is the King of Tallahassee, and that can often skew your sense of reality.
It seems Bowden isn't happy about his program being held up to certain standards of behavior, such as getting $412.38 worth of clothing for $21.40 otherwise known at Dillard's as the Peter Warwick Special.
"If he gets a discount, I want to know how he got it," Bowden said.
Why? Because it's wrong or because it's a deal the coach isn't getting?
Bowden said he referred to murder to show there are extremes he can't live with. But any way he tried to explain it, it was indicative of how far away from reality and accountability people get at the top.
Bowden could care less about any accountability except his own. "I don't let public opinion tell me how to discipline," he said. "I don't know [politically correct], but I ain't it. I don't condone the things that they do, but I don't kill them. Some of these kids, we're the closest thing they have to a father."
Daddy Bowden even had some advice yesterday for his real sons. Terry, a former Auburn coach, is a television analyst, and another son, Tommy, coaches Clemson. "I hope they never cheat," Bowden said. "That's the most disappointing thing. It's the easiest and quickest way to win, buying players. I would be so disappointed."
This is what happens when you live in a world governed by NCAA rules and regulations and not by society's standards of right and wrong. You care about breaking NCAA rules and murder. Everything else is negotiable.

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