Bowden, players unfazed by NCAA sanction

July, 28, 2009
7/28/09
10:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Regardless of what's happening between the NCAA and Florida State, or what will happen to coach Bobby Bowden's final record, those within the program are downplaying the effects of it.

The person it seems to be affecting the least, though, is the man at the center of the controversy.

"It won't bother me one bit," Bowden said. "I don't live and die over stuff like that. I'd love to have it, and I'd love for my children, and my grandchildren to be able to say that's their old man up there, but if it doesn't happen, I won't lose a drop -- I won't lose a second of sleep over it."

And yet he continues to fight on.

"I'm gonna tell 'em to fight like you know what," Bowden said. "I'd fight it if I could, but there's nothing I can do. But if we don't win it, I'll accept it."

For the players, quarterback Christian Ponder insists that public squabble between the NCAA and FSU officials hasn't been a distraction. The team's main concern has been preparing for the season opener against Miami and making progress during seven-on-sevens.

"For us, the administration is dealing with that," Ponder said. "As a football team, we're only worried about winning games. That's our job, that's what we're focused on. The past is in the past; you can't change it. We're not dwelling on it at all. It's not a distraction."

The rare opportunity to start for Bowden during what is likely his final season or two, though, is not lost on Ponder.

"It means a lot now and I think it's going to mean much more later on," Ponder said. "He's a heck of a coach. A lot of people think he's not as involved as he was, and he might be backing off a little bit, but he's still very involved. He contributes a lot. He's obviously one of the greatest coaches in football history."

Ponder said he doesn't put a lot of pressure on himself to usher Bowden out as a winner, "but it would be nice to send him out on a high note at the end of his career. But we don't really dwell on it."

Ponder's father, David, played on the defensive line for Bowden from 1980-83. Ponder said his father doesn't bring it up much because he doesn't want it to be a distraction.

"He feels a little bad," Ponder said. "It's tough to see that going on, but, honestly, I think my dad and everyone close to the program realizes that Coach Bowden is a strong person and he could really care less whether he keeps those wins or not. He doesn't really judge his life on wins and losses so everyone knows he's one of the greatest coaches in football history. Who cares? Fourteen wins doesn't mean much."

Unless, of course, you're Joe Paterno.

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