Bobby Bowden, the longtime coach at Florida State who retired
in 2009 after 34 years with the Seminoles, told a radio station in
Orlando recently, that he would've acted much differently than
Joe Paterno in the alleged child-abuse scandal at Penn State.
Bowden, who always seemed to be battling Paterno for the all-time
record in wins (JoePa had 409 to Bowden's 377) when they were
both active, said he wouldn't have looked the other way if he had
been told that one of his former assistants had committed an act
like Sandusky allegedly did.
"I would have gone to that guy (Sandusky), asked him if it was true,"
said Bowden. "and I would have told him to get away from here
and don’t EVER come back. And then I would have gone to the police.
I think that's what I would've done."
I've always been amazed by the people who criticize others and
always seem to do what they think is right well after the fact. Bowden
said he "thinks" calling the police is what he would've done, but do
you really think he would have? Has any college coach that you can
recall ever run to the police? Have they ever blown the whistle
on themselves or their program? Did Mike McQueary go to the
police after he allegedly saw Sandusky committed a sexual act
on a young child?
when it's right for them. Do people always do the right thing
even if there are severe consequences they will face if they do
so? If it means putting your job in jeopardy or having your
reputation tainted, how many coaches or people still
"do the right thing?" In most cases, self-preservation wins out
Mike McQueary didn't do the right thing and go to the police,
did he? If he had gone to the police, he knew that he'd never be
trusted by any coach or program in the country. He knew his
future in the profession would be all but shot. McQueary was a
former athlete and he came up knowing the unwritten code that
if you tattle or squeal on a teammate, you can pretty much count
on being ostracized at your next stop and throughout the game.
Did he save that child from Sandusky? No, he was more concerned
about saving himself.
Coaches are more inclined to protect their image or that of
the program and the school, than another individual. In 1986,
Len Bias and a few of his teammates were partying in the dorms
on the campus of the University of Maryland. Bias had an
accidental overdose and died. Lefty Driesell, then the head coach
of the Terps, told a few of the players who had been in the room
with Bias to clean it up and to get rid of the drugs and paraphernalia
that were strewn across the floor. There was no way Lefty was
going to be tagged with a rep for recruiting drug addicts and
guys who partied a lot. It would hurt his recruiting efforts and
ability to stay competitive in the ACC. It was a big mess and
Lefty had to do something to cover it up and save himself.
Didn't happen. Lefty was forced to resign.
Coaches like Driesell and Paterno were conditioned to
keep everything "in house," meaning that what goes on
here, stays in here. We watch each others backs and protect
the the image, the brand, the program....and self.
In 2003, Baylor University and the basketball program
suffered an unthinkable tragedy, when Carlton Dotson shot
a teammate, Brian Dennehy, in desolate field outside of
Waco, Texas. In the subsequent investigation, it was discovered
that basketball coach, Dave Bliss, had made illegal payments
to Dotson during his recruitment. Bliss tried to smear Dotson's
reputation to save himself. He told his players to lie to
investigators and say that Dotson was a drug dealer who used
the money he made from selling drugs to pay for his tuition.
Bliss didn't care about doing "the right thing", he just wanted
to save himself. Needless to say, Bliss was fired.
Paterno could've done the right thing, but like Driesell and
Bliss, he knew it would make him look bad. Everything---the
image, the brand, the legacy, would be gone. Paterno chose to
do what was right for him, instead of just doing the right thing.
And like the others, he just tried to sweep it under the rug and
hoped it'd all go away.
Bobby Bowden can say that he would've gone to the police,
but I really doubt it. Doing so would have destroyed his image,
his brand, and his legacy. Are you going to tell me in Bowden's
34 years at Florida State that he reported every illegal activity
to the police? With those players? Seriously. There were no
crimes as heinous as the ones that allegedly occurred in
the football facility at Penn State, but I'm sure a few things
happened where Bowden turned the other way.
Just this past week, Matt McGloin, the QB at Penn State
suffered a seizure and concussion after being in a fight
with a teammate. If that happened on the street, both players
would've been arrested for assault, disorderly conduct, and
breach of peace. But it happened "in house" and the coach
took care of it. Did Tom Bradley call the police? I don't think
so. Do coaches ever?