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."