Bobby Bowden Reportedly Wants Penn State's Joe Paterno Statue Torn Down

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterJuly 12, 2012

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden is one of the first to sound off on the Joe Paterno statue that adorns the Penn State campus.

In the wake of the newly released Freeh Report, Bowden wants the statue taken down. 

Dan Fogarty of SportsGrid picked up on some interesting comments that the legendary coach and long-time friend of Paterno shared over the airwaves. It seems Bowden was on Sports Central with Cory Giger on ESPN Radio 1450 in State College, and he apparently stated that he wants the famed statue of a celebratory Paterno taken down. 

Here is a tweet from host Cory Giger:

Bobby Bowden just said on my radio show that Paterno's statue should be removed.

— Cory Giger (@CoryGiger) July 12, 2012

By now, many have at least read excerpts and analysis about the Freeh Report. ESPN had this to say:

Joe Paterno and other top Penn State officials hushed up child sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky more than a decade ago for fear of bad publicity, allowing Sandusky to prey on other youngsters, according to a scathing internal report issued Thursday on the scandal.

It's been an odd day wherein Paterno's son went on live TV to stick up for his father, Nike took Paterno's name off its childcare center, and now, a former rival is sounding off on the state of Happy Valley's prized statue. 

For Bowden, he is stuck doing what many close to Paterno have had to do—make sense of the senseless. 

The outcome of thinking about what could have been must have led him to one conclusion—the images of grandeur need to go. 

USA Today has more quotes from Bowden, who spoke to them recently, and you can see things are far from black and white for a man who was quite close to Paterno. 

"It's really sad and now the facts are out, there's no more dodging the issue," said Bowden, who is second in major college football wins behind Paterno (409 to 377).

"I hate that it came out like it did. It's sad because it could have been stopped. It never should have happened after the first incident."

"We were pretty close as coaches and everyone has such great respect for Joe," Bowden said. "Still, you must look at it as a man who made a mistake --not a little-itty mistake, but a very serious mistake."

"To cover it up, that's a tough one," said Bowden, who last visited with Paterno in the spring of 2011.

"When it comes to fields, statues, and names on trophies, every time somebody looks at them, it might bring up a bad picture," said Bowden, who was honored by FSU with a statue and mural and had the field at Florida State's Doak Campbell Stadium named after him.

"I choose to remember him for the good ol' days, all those days we spent together," Bowden said.

Paterno and the rest of Penn State's legacy will be more of a cautionary tale to football programs that inch far too closely to royalty than they should. 

But who knows?

Really, Paterno's legacy will be reached years from now when his name is brought up in conversation; the feeling you get in your gut will tip you off as to whether his decades of service trump his deplorable inaction at the end of his life. 

My feeling is the stain of this mess just isn't coming out, no matter how hard we scrub. 

As for the statue, it's time for it to come down. 

Keeping it up does serve an alternate and altogether helpful symbol, even if it's not what was intended. Paterno runs out with an outstretched hand, more as a warning. 

Don't follow him out onto the field, though; rather, make sure his mistakes are never made again.

The statue is a blaring symbol of what went wrong in failing to sweep away the evil of Jerry Sandusky  before it was too late. The football was bigger than the university, and the grip on a perfect image was too captivating.

The statue we once knew and what it stood for are already gone anyway.