ALBANY, Ga. -- Former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden said this week that now-fired Penn State coach Joe Paterno was "a little negligent" for not acting more decisively to stop alleged child abuse by one of his assistant coaches.
The Albany Herald reported that Bobby Bowden said Friday that Penn State officials could have acted years earlier to prevent sexual abuse. Bowden has the second-most major college football wins behind Paterno.
"It's sad what happened at Penn State," Bowden said as he spoke at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes luncheon at Doublegate Country Club. "Joe was a little negligent."
Bowden said that he had not spoken to his longtime friend Paterno since the scandal erupted and that he didn't feel it was the right time to call him. Bowden said he wouldn't know what to say right now.
"I don't know what Joe will do, because I don't know what his lawyer is going to tell him to do. All I can do is sympathize with him," he said.
Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier were forced out this week amid questions about whether they did enough to stop, report or investigate what a grand jury report said was the molestation of boys as young as 10 by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.
Sandusky's lawyer has said he maintains his innocence.
Bowden, a devout Christian who speaks at churches and religious-oriented functions around the country, said he also knew Sandusky for years.
"I knew him like I know you folks," he told the group at the luncheon. Nonetheless, Bowden said he was stunned by the accusations against Sandusky.
"It's a shocking story," Bowden told The Herald. "The worst thing is what the guy did to those boys, then the second thing is the fact that Penn State kept it quiet. They could have stopped it, about eight years of it, or nine years of it. Now you had eight, nine years. There's no telling how many kids were affected after that."
Bowden said he wasn't surprised by Paterno's firing or bothered by the way it was handled.
"No, I wouldn't say that (I was bothered by that)," Bowden said. "The thing is ... How much did he know? I don't know. Just listening to him talk, he must have known more than he should have said. Because he said (when the scandal first broke), 'I wish I would have done more.'"
"He'll face up to it," Bowden said of Paterno.