“I think it's a consensus among Florida State fans and boosters that he was an embarrassment in a lot of ways to the university," the legendary former Seminoles coach said on ESPN's "The Paul Finebaum Show."
Much has been made of the comment, considering Bowden's stature within the Florida State community, although it should be noted that Finebaum was the first one to mention the word "embarrassment" when asking Bowden about Winston and that the retired coach chuckled before giving his answer.
Bowden continued about Winston: ”He won a lot of ball games, probably one of the best football players that ever attended Florida State, but he hurt himself off the field.
"The good news is he's young enough to get over that. You know that? But he's gotta do that. He just can't make those junior high decisions he made when he was in college."
While quarterback at FSU, Winston was investigated over allegations of sexual assault but not charged. The new member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also was briefly suspended from the university's baseball team after receiving a citation in connection with taking crab legs from a store without paying for them and was suspended one football game last fall for standing on a table and yelling an obscene comment on campus.
When asked how he thought current Seminoles Coach Jimbo Fisher handled the situation, Bowden said he thought Winston "could have been suspended a bit more for his actions, but Jim is faced with what all head coaches face and that is having a great player and trying to save him through problems. ... He did a pretty doggone good job of getting Winston through his career at Florida State University, although a lot of people probably were not happy with it."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Lovie Smith defended Winston on Wednesday.
"He's not an embarrassment," Smith told the Tampa Bay Times. "I'm disappointed. To say that the young man is an 'embarrassment?' That's pretty strong. I just don't think [Bowden is] speaking for all of Florida State, even though he's in an official role there.
"Normally, what we're doing today with our greats, you (embrace) them. Everybody on the outside may be throwing stones at them. Normally, when you're in a family you don't do that. I'm very disappointed that somebody like that would make that type of statement."
Smith added: "We do not see [Winston] as an embarrassment by any means. He meant an awful lot to Florida State. I would never say that," he said. "The essential people at Florida State we talked to and no one said [Winston] was an embarrassment. It was the complete opposite starting with Jimbo Fisher, their current football coach. That's why I say I can't believe it.''