Today's lesson is about winning by losing, about surrendering something to get something better in return. It shouldn't be a difficult concept for the second-winningest college football coach of all time, let alone a university president.

But Florida State coach Bobby Bowden doesn't get it. Neither does his enabler, outgoing FSU president T.K. Wetherell.

More than 60 FSU athletes who played 10 different sports from the fall of 2006 through summer 2007 got caught cheating in the classroom. Of those, 26 players were on Bowden's team. The nexus for all was a course called Culture of World Music, in which staffers provided the athletes with answers to an exam and even typed their papers. Apparently, kids aren't the only ones having trouble telling Gnarls Barkley and Charles Barkley apart.

The cheating is not at issue, because Florida State uncovered the academic funny business and reported it to the NCAA in the fall of 2007 in hopes of cutting a more lenient deal. According to FSU, the punishment included four years of probation, loss of a few scholarships and sitting down some ballplayers for a handful of games — something Bowden, without fully explaining, took care of on his own.

When the NCAA announced the penalties in March, it listed those penalties and added a fourth: vacating every one of the wins those athletes piled up. Included was a national track championship and 14 belonging to Bowden, who turns 80 in November and has been locked in a rivalry with close pal and 82-year-old Penn State coach Joe Paterno for career wins.

Back then, this was what educators like to call a teachable moment.

Bowden could have accepted responsibility, made a point that academic integrity mattered as much as a topflight football program and taken the medicine without a squawk. Or Wetherell could have forced him to do that. Instead, they called the lawyers and appealed.

Now it's a dogfight.

"To hold coaches accountable for something they had nothing to do with," Wetherell said at the time, "to penalize teams two years later when people have already graduated and don't even know that they were involved, just flat-out isn't right."

The tail has been wagging the dog at Florida State ever since Bowden grabbed the Seminoles spear and planted the team atop the college football heap. Beginning in the late 1980s, his teams put together one of the greatest sustained runs the game has seen. For all that winning, Bowden still trails Paterno by one, 383-382 — or 15 if the NCAA has its way.

"There ain't nobody but me and Joe involved in this thing," he said during a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press recently.

"If you had me and Joe up here, and coach so-and-so was right there with us, then it wouldn't bother me. But it's just the two of us. It's a two-man race. Don't wipe the race out. Joe's probably going to win the thing anyway, and that's all right," he added. "But let us play. Let us play! They're taking away our play time."

Paterno said as much and even Steve Spurrier — who memorably called FSU "Free Shoes University" during a 1994 scandal involving Bowden's players' and an unauthorized shopping spree at Foot Locker — came down on his side. That should come as little surprise. Few guys in the fraternity are better liked.

The school expects to be called to appear before the NCAA in Indianapolis sometime in mid-November, when a relatively tough schedule could have the Seminoles hovering around .500.

Bowden is in what looks like the last, or next-to-last year of a series of 1-year deals.

His chances of overtaking Paterno look slimmer by the moment. To really be fair about it, the race is already over. All 383 of Paterno's wins came at Penn State; 31 that Bowden counts among his 382 came at Samford, which isn't major college football by any stretch of the imagination.

When Paterno said he thought Bowden should keep the 14 wins, he said it mattered little which one of them wound up with the record.

"I think people are making more of it than they should. When they put me underneath," Paterno said, "I'm not going to know whether he had more wins, or if I had more wins, and who cares? Who cares?"

Even the athletes at Florida State wouldn't need help to answer that.