by Tony Basilo
It's taken three and a half decades, but finally the most covert of all double agents has been outed. And it's not a pretty sight! In the past month, the world has met the real BB 007. That it's happened in '07 only augments the irony.
College football's two-faced 007 hid behind the faÃ§ade of a God-fearing football coach who always does the right thing. That he's lorded over a lawless group of â“student-athletesâ” his entire career has been largely ignored by a media that has been complicit in falling under his charm-filled â“aw shucksâ” and â“golly gees.â” Yes, 007 is a masterful craftsman at spinning his faÃ§ade. He's even gone so far to spread his message of â“compassionâ” from pulpit to pulpit all over the world. Call it a twisted ministry.
Not only has BB 007 blended into this sublime world of major college football, but until recent years he used the formula of charm, wit and thuggery to dominate it! Until the most recent half-decade, BB 007 was perhaps the most celebrated coach of the past 50 years. And why not? The following is taken straight from his school's media guide. The name of our subject has been omitted to protect his real identity:
â“Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December of 2006,  became the all-time winningest coach in major college history in 2003 and currently has 366 career wins. He is the second winningest bowl coach by percentage and is just two shy of tying for the most bowl wins ever by a college coach. He is the only coach to lead his team to 14 straight seasons that ended with a ranking among the Associated Press top five. He's coached two national championship teams including the 1999 squad that was the first ever to go through a season from start to finish as the AP No. 1. So overwhelming has 's influence been on college football and, in particular, at Florida State, that the field at his stadium was named after him in 2004 and a national award given by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes now bears his name.â”
I wonder what the folks at the FCA think about 007's handling of the Brandon Warren situation? Warren, a nationally ranked prospect a few years back from Alcoa, believed the faÃ§ade behind 007. A Florida State fan for life, Warren spurned his hometown Vols, believing that 007 would take great care of him. But immediately after arriving at Tallahassee, Warren knew he made a mistake. He became homesick and longed to be close to his ailing mother who is attempting to beat cancer.
So Warren went to BB 007, the same man who has his name on that national award, and shared his plight of wanting to be near his mother. Remember, this is the same coach who appears as the face of Christianity in his profession. He's part preacher and part grandfather. And Warren got compassion, right? He received forbearance and understanding, surely. Actually, what he got was an education in the school of hard knocks. You see, Warren was a freshman All-American at tight end. He was too needed to receive compassion.
Warren's football future is promising, which is more than one can say about the recent fortunes of BB 007's Criminoles. Until Warren, BB 007's policy was always to release kids who requested a transfer to any school other than an ACC school or Florida or Miami. So what gives now? BB 007 is desperate. Why else would he have sold out his son Jeff Bowden last year to the administration and boosters at FSU? David Cutcliffe walked away from a head-coaching job at Ole Miss when his administration demanded changes in his coaching staff. That's commitment! Just not BB's version of it. His definition of commitment led him to say the following in an official release about Warren after a Florida State panel upheld his decision to deny Warren a release: â“I would like to see Brandon become a man and honor his commitment.â”
A victim of his own naivetÃ©, Warren is the latest example of the plantation system that stands as an underpinning for the foundation of major college sports. When he unwittingly signed his national letter of intent, Warren surrendered his rights. Now, barring a reprieve from the NCAA, Warren will be forced to either pay his way to UT for a year or transfer to a Division II school like Carson Newman to be eligible immediately.
I don't want to paint Bobby Bowden (oops, I just exposed him) as a non-compassionate man. He really does care. Instead of chopping him up in a witty closing, I'll let BB 007 himself do the honors. In his official statement on the Warren situation, Bowden said the following: â“When Brandon came by my office in January '07 to tell me he wanted a transfer from FSU, I told him I would not even consider it. If players are allowed to break a contract whenever they wish, we do not need the national letter of intent. Without it, we would allow unscrupulous coaches to steal players from other schools. It would cost thousands of dollars every time this occurs.â” Through the Warren saga, BB 007 has been outed, and I'm speechless.
Tune in and talk sports with Tony Basilio weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN Radio WVLZ 1180 AM. Visit www.tonybasilio.com for more information.
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