Paterno hopes Bowden can keep wins

A cheating scandal that could cost Florida State coach Bobby Bowden as many as 14 victories could also drop him well behind Joe Paterno in career wins as they enter the 2009 season.

Paterno stands atop the all-time list among FBS coaches with 383 victories. Bowden sits one behind at 382.

Yet the Penn State coach maintains the penalty would be unjust.

"The NCAA is going to do what it's going to do, but I would hope they would not take away 10 or 12 wins away from him," Paterno told the Reading Eagle of Pennsylvania. "I don't think that's fair. He coached the team he had; they played against people, and they won. They ought to be wins for them."

Florida State is appealing the NCAA's decision to strip Bowden of wins as part of its punishment for academic fraud that involved a total of 61 athletes, who allegedly cheated on an online music course exam.

The NCAA placed Florida State on four years' probation, cut 19 athletic scholarships and ordered the school to vacate victories by 10 teams whose student-athletes were involved.

According to an Orlando Sentinel report, Bowden said "there might have been some" of his players who apologized directly to him for cheating. But he also said the 25 players involved "have paid the price."

Paterno says there should be no additional price to pay for Bowden as far as his record goes.

"I've known Bobby for 40 years," Paterno told the newspaper. "Sue and I have gone on a lot of trips with Bobby and his wife, Ann. I think Bobby is not filled up with himself. He's my kind of guy. He doesn't go around blowing his horn."

The NCAA found no evidence that Bowden and other Florida State coaches played a role in the scandal or knew that cheating was occurring.

Bowden has pointed that out in supporting the appeal, saying it's unfair to take wins from coaches who didn't know what was going on.

"He's very humble and a very, very religious guy," Paterno said. "He's very, very principled. He's not preaching. He's not trying to convert people. He's just a good person and a heck of a football coach."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.