He relished the anonymity. The '93 football season, which had begun with Bentley and his Seminole holder, Danny Kanell, on the cover of SI's Aug. 30 issue (actor-Florida State alumnus Burt Reynolds was Bentley's holder in a picture inside the magazine) ended with Bentley on the steps of the capitol building in Tallahassee, addressing 6,000 Seminole fans who were raucously celebrating the national championship he had helped deliver to them. But those high points book-ended a turbulent five months in which Bentley conducted 90 media interviews; feuded publicly with Lou Holtz, who had lost to Bowden in the race to recruit Bentley; and, for the first month of the season, missed every fourth extra point he tried.
Having drawn a crowd of several hundred people on the first day of practice, Bentley determined to prove to them, he recalls, "that I was everything they'd heard about." He kicked 100 balls, strained his right hip flexor and a groin muscle and missed the next 10 days. Soon, however, Bentley was just as determined to escape the inordinate attention he received on campus. On the first day of classes his math professor singled him out, saying, "So you're the guy who's going to solve our wide right problem?" When Bentley dropped by the Moore Athletic Center, he drew crowds. He ended up spending more and more time in his room, and his loneliness was compounded by acute homesickness.
This season has been different. "People don't seem to notice me as much," says Bentley, lounging in his apartment one afternoon in the lull preceding the Seminoles' Sugar Bowl rematch with Florida—in which Bentley will handle only kickoffs. "I've enjoyed the lack of attention."
"Best thing for him," says Kanell, Bentley's roommate and the Seminoles' starting quarterback. "It's taken the pressure off him. You watch, he'll come back next season and kick great."
Neither Bentley nor Kanell so much as looks up when Mowrey bursts into the place and begins rummaging through the cupboards. "Need some pepper," he says cheerfully. "I'm making soup." More precisely, he is opening a can of soup.
"Mowrey's the biggest mooch on the team," says Kanell, but he has little room to talk. As he speaks he is chewing on a hunk of smoked sausage pilfered from a Christmas gift basket in the room of wideout Aaron Dely.
This is Kanell's and Bentley's second year as apartment mates. Kanell feels so close to his roomie that he didn't hesitate to make a request of Bentley last January, seconds before they jogged onto the Orange Bowl field for the kick that would decide the national championship. "After you make it," Kanell said, "be sure to jump into my arms, so I can be on national TV too."
Even though Kanell has led Florida State to a 9-1-1 record—including a 31-31 tie with Florida secured by a barely believable four-touchdown fourth quarter—and was named the All-ACC quarterback, the feeling among spoiled Seminole fans is that he has struggled. Kanell and Bentley spent much of this season exchanging encouraging words.
Things were particularly funereal in their pad after Florida State's game against Clemson on Oct. 22, a 17-0 Seminole win in which both Kanell and Bentley sat on the bench. Kanell won his job back, but two days after the game Bentley was formally demoted. He moped for a week or so—and fleetingly considered transferring—until a letter arrived that put an abrupt end to his pity party.
To his son, Bob wrote, "It's so easy to get into issues of transfer, of 'When will I get in again?' of 'Was it fair?' These, none of them, arc The Real Issue...The Real Issue is Discipline Through Concentration!" Bob saw that, except on pressure kicks, Scott's concentration tended to ebb. He wrote, "Do you know what kickers arc called who have your talent, and DISCIPLINE? Professionals!"