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Nitt Picks is Asterisk Free

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If you haven't heard by now, the NCAA has listened to Florida State's hissy fit to not vacate 14 wins that were earned stolen while using several players that were caugh cheating on an online course. The response is back from the NCAA, and it's no soup for you.

The committee pointed to six factors "as relevant to the imposition of a vacation penalty." Those factors included:

• A large number of violations committed by three former staff members.

• The violations were severe and intentional.

• Failure by the institution to monitor.

The university stated in its appeal in late April that vacating victories would be excessive in this case. A penalty, according to NCAA bylaws, can be overturned provided "that penalty is excessive such that it constitutes an abuse of discretion."

The committee response to that was:

"In light of these aggravating factors, the university cannot begin to make its required showing that the vacation of records is 'excessive such that it constitutes an abuse of discretion' by the Committee on Infractions."

Now, I think I've already made myself clear on where I stand in terms of my respect for Bobby Bowden. That's why it burns me up when I see people start talking about asterisks.

Records can be strange beasts. Roger Maris had to put an asterisk by his 61 home runs; Barry Bonds' colossal season and career totals may not even stay in the books by the time the "Steroid Era" is finally exhausted and put out of its misery.


So it is now in Bobby Bowden's chase for the career wins record, which enters the 2009 season -- in all likelihood either his last or next-to-last season at Florida State -- one game behind Joe Paterno in actual wins: Bowden has 382 to JoePa's 383. But even if FSU wins enough games to pass Joe for that mark while Bowden is still boss, the official win total is looking more and more like it's all Paterno's to lose:

With all respect to the Good Dr. Saturday, I think talk of asterisks is inappropriate here. This is not like Roger Maris having an extra 18 games and 70 at bats to pass Babe Ruth. If and when the wins are vacated from the record book, they are gone. They aren't floating around in the margins of the page somewhere. They're gone. If Bowden were to win more games than JoePa in these final few years of their careers, giving him credit for more actual wins would be a great disservice to Paterno. The fact is that Bowden and his staff did not have their players under control. They were cheating on exams while tutors and staff members either enabled them or looked the other way. They cheated, plain and simple. To say he is the actual leader is like saying Shonn Greene was the actual NCAA rushing leader last year, but he had 250 yards called back because of holding penalties. When you cheat there is a penalty to be paid, and you don't get an asterisk as a consolation prize.

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