News Joe Paterno Dies
Moments after hearing that Bobby Bowden had officially retired as head coach of the Florida State Seminoles, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno let out a sigh, made a few last remarks, and happily slipped into sweet, sweet death.
"Oh, thank Christ in heaven," said Paterno, letting out a long breath. "Finally. Finally. I never thought he would retire. But now he has. And my career wins record is forever safe. Goodbye, world."
And, with that, the 82-year-old head coach slumped over dead.
"I'm so happy for Joe," said Penn State defensive coordinator, Tom Bradley, who was in Paterno's office when he quit living. "This is all he has wanted for so long. He had to keep coaching and living long after he intended to because Bowden was as stubborn as he was. But in the end, Joe was more stubborn. By a few minutes. What a fighter."
Bowden expressed remorse upon receiving the news of his rival's passing.
"I'm sorry he had to die," said Bowden. "But me faking my retirement so he would stop living was the only way I could make up the wins gap. What? I had to do it. I'm not as dumb as I've looked the past few years."
The Florida State icon then announced a new five-year contract extension.
Bobby Bowden, the lovable mascot with the bemused expression and eclectic hats and glasses who has walked the Florida State sidelines for the past 34 years, may have worked his final game on Saturday.
“He has done so much for our university and for our football program,” said university president T.K. Wetherell. “Bobby Bowden has almost nothing to do with the football team itself or what happens on the field, but our fans love him more than any current or former player or coach. That the mark of a great mascot.”
The mascot has been forced to cut back on his colorful routine of yelling and folksiness in recent years to do its increased age and it may be health concerns that end a career perhaps only rivaled by the likes of the Phillie Phanatic, the San Diego Chicken and the University of Georgia’s Uga.
Junior quarterback Christian Ponder says that while Bobby Bowden isn’t a true member of the team, he does have an impact on them.
“We love him,” said Ponder. “Coach Fisher will be running a practice or going over the gameplan or something, and all of a sudden Bobby Bowden will come marching through out of nowhere, yelling and carrying on about something. He’s hilarious. You can’t get too tight with him around. He always lightens the mood.”
Ponder also credited Bowden for recruiting him to Florida State when he was a highly-coveted high school player three years ago.
“Most schools sent their head coach or some intense, hard-nosed assistant to my house to talk to me,” said Ponder. “But Florida State sent their mascot. That’s what won me over. It showed me they keep football fun here.”
Despite the rumors, Bobby Bowden – who famously always stays in his character– told amused reporters today that he has no plans to retire.
“Retire? What are you talking about? I’m focusing on getting these kids ready for next season and nothing else,” he croaked, working the crowd masterfully. And then he delivered the punch line to uproarious laughter: “I’m not the retiring type and I'm not a figurehead or a mascot. I’m a head football coach!"
Wetherell says he hopes Bowden does step away.
“He deserves a break,” he said. “It must be exhausting to be a public figure like that, always in character playing the cranky and old, but lovable, grandfather-type. And I can’t imagine how hot it must be inside that ridiculous costume.”
As Florida State and Bobby Bowden fight to keep wins stripped from the program due to an academic cheating scandal, new reports today suggests the Seminoles could have as many as four or five wins taken from them this year due to an almost criminal dearth of talent in the once-dominant program.
The report, published in numerous 2009 NCAA football preview magazines, suggests the Seminoles will struggle to even qualify for a bowl game.
"It's a shame what has happened to Florida State over the past few years," said one veteran ACC beat writer. "And I don't mean the cheating stuff. Most good programs cheat. I mean that instead of trying to win national titles, they now just hope to win the Atlantic Division of the ACC. How pathetic is that?"
And all fingers point at Bowden.
"He's let that program slip," said a former assistant. "Everything is still in place there to be great the history, the facilities, the cheating. There's no reason not to get top recruits, especially considering Florida State has no limitations regarding academic or criminal failings. Yet they're losing recruits to Florida, Miami, South Florida. Duke! They're losing recruits to fking Duke!"
While the university has remained firmly behind Bowden in regards to the cheating scandal off the field, it's his failings on the field that will likely cause him to be pushed out.
"Keeping athletes eligible by bending and breaking some rules is one thing," said a source within the FSU president's office. "I mean, this is major college athletics. But all this 7-6, 8-5 crap no. I mean, we can have legitimate student-athletes go 7-6. We can get some book nerds in here to do that. But this is Florida State. We expect more on the field because we demand less in the classroom."
Florida State officials say they will continue to support Bowden in his fight against the NCAA.
"Even if Bobby is on his way out, we don't want to signal to his successor that we don't want to still bend the rules when it comes to academics," said the source. "If anything, we want to bend them more so we can get out of this hole we're in."