The latest voice to weigh in on whether Penn State should keep its Joe Paterno statue belongs to a coach who already has his own--and that voice says the statue should go.
Paterno's longtime friend and rival Bobby Bowden told Altoona Mirror reporter Cory Giger that Penn State should remove the statue, saying it would be an unnecessary distraction for the university -- and a continuing anchor on Paterno's reputation -- as the school attempts to move forward.
"Every time somebody walks by and sees that statue, they're not going to remember the 80 good years," Bowden said. "They're going to remember this thing with Sandusky.
"And I say for Joe's sake, for the family's sake, I would remove that statue," he continued. "I mean, just think, every time you go to a ballgame at Penn State and they shine that camera on that statue, that's going to be brought up again. So if I was Penn State and I was Joe's family, I'd say remove all that stuff."
Like nearly everyone who was personally familiar with Paterno, Bowden said he was stunned by the findings of the Freeh Report.
"It is so unbecoming of Joe," Bowden said. "It's just so unbecoming. I've known him since 1962, and I've always looked up to him, and I still do. I looked up to him as a man who's infallible, who just did everything right except one disastrous mistake, and that's not reporting that thing to the proper authorities ... It looks like the facts are [that Paterno knew about the 1998 allegations against Sandusky], and I'm just sorry that he and his family have to go through this.
"But let me say this: That's not as sorry as I am for those young men that for 10 years got sexually abused when it could have been stopped."
Paterno and Bowden have, of course, long been linked by their pursuit of the all-time FBS coaching wins record. The former was fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees last fall, ending his career at 407 wins, while Bowden was forced out at Florida State after collecting 377. (As an indication of how far out in front of the pack the pair of them still are, the current active wins leader -- Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, with 251 -- would need to average 10 wins a season for the next 13 years to surpass Bowden, much less Paterno.)
Given the strength of that link and Bowden's years of outspokenness, it's no surprise that the Seminole legend would speak out on the topic of Paterno's statue, even with the Freeh Report still fresh out of the proverbial oven. The far bigger surprise will be if Bowden's opinion isn't just the start of the debate.
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