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Learning the Hard Way
Austin Murphy
December 26, 1994
For benched Florida State kicker Scott Bentley, growing up has been painfully public
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December 26, 1994

Learning The Hard Way

For benched Florida State kicker Scott Bentley, growing up has been painfully public

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Kicking for the Seminoles is not like kicking for other teams. As Bob says, "There arc two kinds of kicks at Florida State—boring and life-threatening." Seminole kickers are either lining up for window-dressing field goals in games in which Florida State leads by 45 points, or they're preparing for kicks with national-championship implications. Although he has yet to miss a pressure kick, Scott hasn't performed well when the stakes have been low.

Still, he won't take a shot at Bowden, and he has nothing but praise for Mowrey, who took the starting job from him. The two kickers, in fact, arc fast friends. When Bentley arrived on the Florida State campus in August 1993, Mowrey had been reduced to a footnote in Seminole lore, the poor sap responsible for Wide Right: The Sequel. Bentley had supplanted him by the simple act of signing his letter of intent.

Says Mowrey, "At first my attitude was, If they're going to give this guy the job without a competition, I'm not going to make it any easier on him." His silent treatment of Bentley lasted less than a day. "I couldn't help it, I liked him," says Mowrey. "He was cocky, a little arrogant. He reminded me of myself."

Mowrey handled Bentley's arrival like a good company man. After Bentley's successful kicks, Mowrey was the first on the field to high-five him. It now falls to Bentley to be a cheerleader for Mowrey, whose return to the starting lineup for the last half of his fifth season has been widely interpreted as a reward for the grace with which he handled his demotion. And as the Seminoles went 4-0-1 in their last five games, Mowrey connected on seven of 10 field goal attempts and 21 of 23 PATs.

The Mowrey-Bentley friendship is partly one of convenience. Both know far more about kicking than does Bowden or anyone on his staff: They arc each other's kicking coach. Mowrey is also trying to make a deer hunter of Bentley, whose cluelessness as an outdoorsman is a rich source of amusement to his country-boy crony. Though Bentley has been hunting several times, he has drawn blood only once. The gore was his own: The recoil of the 30-30 he fired drove the scope into his brow, opening a semicircular cut.

Bentley cites his new hobby as evidence that he is, as he puts it, "broadening my interests." Last summer he worked at a Tallahassee law firm—"as a runner, mostly," he says. The experience convinced him to major in political science; he now aspires to law school. After flirting with academic ineligibility his first fall semester, he rallied with a 3.4 last spring and now has a cumulative 2.89.

He's also back with his high school sweetheart, who broke up with him after he told her about the tape-recording incident. "It was a real embarrassing situation," he says. Painfully and ever so publicly, Bentley is growing up.

When the woman whom Bentley taped found out about it—one of his friends told her—she decided to press charges. "He basically raped my mind," she told the Tallahassee Democrat. "[He] made me look like absolutely nothing. I don't trust anybody now."

"I understand how she feels," says Bentley, who apologized to the woman and voluntarily reported to the state attorney's office to answer questions. "I made a mistake, but I'm still a good person. People say things behind my back, but I can't worry about that. I'm trying to learn from my mistakes and move on."

After the incident Bowden, a devout Baptist, suspended Bentley—for the summer, thereby conveniently allowing him to return to the fold a week before the start of training camp. The county court fined Bentley $500 and sentenced him to 40 hours of community service, such as lifting bales of hay and digging ditches. "I just took my place in the work crew," he says. "No one knew I played football, no one put me on a pedestal."

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