TALLAHASSEE, AP--Bobby Bowden appealed to the NCAA to include wins from his past before. He may have to do it again.
Florida State will appeal the NCAA ruling in an academic fraud case including the vacating of 14 wins, but should the University lose the appeal Bowden will likely try a new tack. Rather than refuse to honor the NCAA, Florida State will instead lobby for the inclusion of several victories he participated in as a major in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.
Bowden, seen here with Joe Paterno in happier times (i.e., the 1930s)
"Bowden wants that record badly enough to go that far," said one administration source close to the situation who spoke to the AP anonymously.
According to the source, Bowden is compiling documentation to back up claims of a share in at least 22 Confederate military victories, including the engagements of Bull Run (referred to as Manassas in FSU documents,) Fredericksburg, and Fort Sumter.
Under the current ruling, Bowden will lose up to 14 games after Florida State athletes were found to have received unfair academic assistance in a music appreciation class. Bowden plans to offset this by claiming to have overseen key units in battle, an exercise the argument will creatively analogize to coaching a football team.
Experts are skeptical. When reached for comment, Civil War historian and Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust said: "No." When pressed for clarification, she repeated: "No." While historians may be suspicious, NCAA watchers believe the argument could pass for any number of reasons.
"They may approve it in a clerical error, accidentally set fire to the paperwork, or just simply forget about it and stare at a particularly arresting game of Minesweeper for three or four years," said David Johnson, a longtime NCAA-watcher and public policy professor at the University of North Carolina. "There's really no telling how they could screw it up, but the one certainty is that they will, and that Bowden will likely get the wins."
Granting all 22 victories to Bowden would give the coach a nearly insurmountable seven game margin over Penn State coach Joe Paterno. Paterno had no comment on Wednesday, but sources did say if the Florida State petition is granted Paterno could counter by seeking to include victories from not only the Civil War, but also his contributions to the Mexican-American War, the Crimean War, Lord Kitchener's Sudanese Expedition, the Punic Wars, and his pivotal role in ending the Thirty Years' War.
A source close to Paterno said "Bowden can bring it on. If he wants to go down that rabbit hole, we will. Joe was at the battle of Marathon, and has the missing eye and scars to prove it. Bowden will lose this game with Joe every time."