GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Bobby Bowden is approaching his 80th birthday, and he’s asking for quite the present.

The soon-to-be octogenarian hopes to hang on to the 14 victories the NCAA wants to remove from his record due to an academic cheating scandal.

“I’m still thinking they’ll come to their senses,” the Florida State coach said Monday with a laugh during the Atlantic Coast Conference’s media days.

The 79-year-old Bowden continued to express his desire to remain in a chase with Penn State’s Joe Paterno to become the winningest coach in major college football. Bowden enters his 34th season in Tallahassee with 382 career wins – one fewer than Paterno.

“They’re just going to kill a good dadgum competition if they take those games away,” Bowden said. Reporters, he added, “don’t have a darned thing to write about if they take those games away. They might do it. I hope they don’t.”

At the heart of the dispute is whether the NCAA should take wins from Bowden and other coaches and athletes who had no role in a scandal that involved 61 athletes who allegedly cheated on an online music history test several seasons ago.

Florida State filed a 20-page appeal earlier this month, arguing that the penalty is too harsh and that even if the Seminoles’ program should lose victories, the individual records of coaches and players should not suffer.

“I’m going to tell (the school) to fight like you-know-what,” Bowden said. “I’m going to tell them to fight it (with) all we’re worth, and I’d fight it if I could, but there’s nothing I can do. But if we don’t win it, I’ll accept it.

“As soon as we spotted (cheating), we turned ourselves in (and) suspended them immediately,” he added. “Now, are they going to open up a can of worms here? Does that mean when ‘So-and-So State’ has a kid, middle of the season, gets caught cheating, they found out he cheated three weeks ago, they’ve got to go back and forfeit all those games he played in? … That’ll happen at every school in the United States of America.”

Paterno said Monday at the Big Ten media day it was “ridiculous” that the NCAA was considering stripping Bowden of the victories.

“Bobby played with what he had and he won with what he had,” Paterno said. “It bothers me a little bit that the NCAA would use him almost as a scapegoat for all of things that went on at Florida State. … I hope they let him keep his wins.”

Some of Bowden’s ACC rivals weren’t sure what to make of the veteran coach’s sticky situation.

North Carolina coach Butch Davis – whose rivalry with Bowden dates back to his time as an assistant at Miami in the mid-1980s and head coach there in the ’90s – steered clear of saying too much about it.

“It’s never come up in casual conversation with any of the other coaches, and I think probably the thing is that everybody’s like, ‘That’s Bobby and Florida State’s situation,'” Davis said. “And none of us know.”

Said Miami’s Randy Shannon: “We’re all coaches, and we’re part of the coaching family. Everybody goes through it. When it hits you, you have to weather the storm and get back in control of it.”

Bowden turns 80 on Nov. 8 – the day after the Seminoles play son Tommy’s former team, Clemson. The family’s patriarch insisted he hasn’t resigned himself to losing those wins – or the chase with Paterno.

“It won’t bother me one bit. I don’t live and die over stuff like that,” Bowden said. “I mean, I’d love to have it. I’d love for my children and my grandchildren to be able to say that’s their old man up there. But if it doesn’t happen, I won’t lose a second of sleep over it.”

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