What Was Penn State’s Punishment?

July 25, 2012

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Mike McQueary  (red hair) was the quarterback the last tiem the Nittany Lions won a game.

There has been plenty of chatter about the punishment the NCAA meted out on Penn State.  Did it go too far – or not far enough?  There are strong opinions on both sides.  I won’t get into that discussion in this article (although the topic is likely to be raised in the comments section) but will focus on what the actual penalties were.

$60 million fine – The money will be used to fund programs that helps victims of child sexual abuse.  If there was going to be a financial aspect to the penalty, then this is a logical use of the money.

Four year post-season ban – Penn State will not be allowed to participate in a bowl game for the next four years.  After the NCAA’s announcement, the Big 10 conference announced two related sanctions from the conference.  First, Penn State would not be allowed to participate in the conference title game (the winner of that game gets a berth to a BCS game).  Additionally, Penn State will not receive a share of Big 10 bowl revenue for the next four years.  The conference is taking that money and giving it to charities.

Allowing players to transfer freely – The NCAA will allow any current Penn State player or incoming freshman to transfer to another school and become immediately eligible.  In almost all cases, a student-athlete must sit out a year before becoming eligible at a new school.  This wasn’t announced as a penalty, but realistically it is, as it will likely cause many players to bolt.

Schools that take a Penn State “refugee” are allowed to exceed the scholarship cap (85) in 2012 as long as they reduce 2013 scholarships by the same number.  In other words, if you take 2 Penn State players to boost total scholarships to 87, you can only have 83 scholarships in 2013.  No doubt some top schools will cherry pick the best talent, but this could also be a chance for a mid-level school to make a one year splash.  A team could add some good depth by taking on 10 of Penn State’s players, for example.  They’d be taking the field with 95 scholarship players in 2012, whereas their opponents would have 85.  Sure, they’d be forced to cut back to 75 in 2013, but it might be worth it.  Instead of being 6-6 both years, maybe the team could go 9-3 and get a bowl win this year, and then fall back to 4-8 next year.

Reduction in scholarships – For the 2013-2016 seasons, Penn State will not being to exceed 65 total scholarships (85 is standard), nor can they offer more than 15 new scholarships (25 is standard).  Penn State will probably wish that this penalty started in 2012, as the number of defections may leave them below this number.  My advice to Penn State this year – if you have extra scholarships left due to people leaving the program, reward some of the senior walk-ons with a scholarship.

Vacated wins – All wins between 1998 and 2011 are vacated.  This is a total of 112 wins, 111 of which were Joe Paterno’s wins.  Paterno is no longer the all-time winningest coach.

Penn State is also on five years probation and must work with the NCAA on corrective actives to ensure that this never happens again.


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Reactions To The Penn State Penalties

July 24, 2012

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AP photo -- Sunday morning ...Penn State REMOV...

Statue of Joe Paterno removed from Beaver Stadium

No bowl games for 4 years, statues taken down, scholarships lost, massive fines imposed, wins vacated.

By now we have watched countless hours of coverage on ESPN and other news stations involving the sanctions levied by the NCAA toward Penn State. Yesterday was a veritable media blitz covering all of the sports talk radio, local and national news broadcasts, newspapers and internet message boards.

Former players, students, coaches from teams from all over the country all had microphones put in front of them to give their opinion of the penalties against the University and the football program in particular.

Everyone has an opinion on this matter.

Some have stronger opinions than others.

Whether you agree or disagree with the punishment fitting the crime, it does not change the fact that there is a lot of healing that needs to take place for many people involved, regardless if they are directly or indirectly impacted by these events and resulting consequences.

My only hope is that some of the public figures just quit talking about it altogether.

Bobby Bowden was taking numerous opportunities yesterday to talk about the subject and used his typical – good ol’ boy, golly gee whiz’ attitude. Bobby, stop with the Elmer Fudd impersonations here. A polite comment such as “this is a hard way to back into a record” and then just walk away.

I do feel for the Paterno family. Many of the things that have happened this week I am sure are viewed by them as a direct attack on their family, their pride and most importantly to them, the legacy of the good things that their beloved Joe stood for.

Unfortunately every time they make another press release – which seems like every single day – the perceived reality in their statements appears to be far out of touch with the pulse of most of the sports fans who are following the proceedings on a daily basis.

Another side bar to this entire event is what will happen to the current football players who have been given free rein by the NCAA to go elsewhere and not have to sit out and miss any time. Head coach Bill O’Brien will have his hands full trying to keep existing players and also try to make sure the kids that have already committed to the program as freshmen to be will continue to uphold that early promise and attend the university.

Many of the football players could look to other programs , and as some speculate this could essentially turn into a college free agency scenario for this year.

Since it is late in the summer and football is just around the corner, it is unlikely that many players will leave Penn State due to the timing of it all. No matter how high the talent level, it would be difficult at this juncture to leave and go to another school and still play this year for another program. It would require a lot of things happening in the lives of those young men in a short amount of time.

As we continue to discuss this entire topic over the next days and weeks, it is important to remember that a lot has happened here in a short amount of time.

More importantly…….. It has all happened because nothing was done for a long amount of time.

Until Next time…just stay classy.

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Will Penn State Hire Urban Meyer?

November 11, 2011

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By now all of you are well aware of the situation at Penn State. Paterno has been fired, Spanier canned, replacements – – albeit likely temporarily named.

By all accounts there is still a football game to play this weekend.

Nebraska Athletic director has called for increased security to protect Nebraska fans who are travelling there.

According to remarks from NU Regent Tim Clare “Happy Valley is a pretty interesting place on a normal football Saturday,” Clare said. “Given what’s developed the last several days, particularly last night, we have a duty to ensure that our football student-athletes, staff, coaches and our fans are safe.”

And…while that game may pale in comparison to the bigger story going on at State College. ESPN has their announcing team in place for the game this weekend.

This was the topic of lunchroom conversation at work this week. Who would ABC/ESPN bring in to cover this game? Who would WANT to cover this game. There could be many moments of awkwardness. I would even venture to say that this is the most bizarre setting for a football game since the Army vs. Navy game played a mere week after the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

Well the choice of the crew to do the game day coverage is interesting to say the least.

Don’t envy this job for these guys. The setting is strange, emotions are high, there could be countless things (or absolutely nothing) happen this weekend. I think it is anyone’s best guess as to what side stories will develop during, and after the matchup between the Huskers and Nittany Lions.

Not surprisingly Tom Rinaldi is going to be at the game. He has been covering most of the story for ESPN all week so it would seem natural that he would remain “in house” and likely add some bit stories during the telecast. I just hope that ESPN does not do what ESPN often does…..try to create some sort of Emmy award winning documentary situation with every little side story that gets talked about. My only concern with Rinaldi being there is that ESPN will want to be the story, the off- field stuff will continue to get top billing and the game coverage will be a complete afterthought.

Chris Spielman will be the color analyst for the game. Spielman is one of my favorites as he has straight-forward comments, mainly stemming from his status as a great player in college (he was a two time All American at Ohio State) and his time in the NFL. I always enjoy his commentary and his presence is normally good for any telecast. Interestingly ( and not surprisingly, Jerry Sandusky recruited Speilman to play college football at Penn State. I always enjoy his commentary and his presence is normally good for any telecast.

Dave Pasch will be the play by play person covering the game for ESPN. Pasch is most noted in the broadcasting world as being the voice of the Arizona Cardinals. Pasch has reportedly reached out to some fellow broadcasters such as Bob Costas, Mike Tirico and Sean McDonogh about preparing for the strange setting at Beaver Stadium this weekend. I think Pasch may have more trouble juggling the fact that he has not one, but two colors guys in the booth this week. The other being former Florida Coach, Urban Meyer.

The only reason I can explain that Meyer is at this game is that it is a “interview” process for taking over the head coaching job at Penn State. It has long been speculated that “Urb” was the heir apparent to Paterno – if and when Joe decided to hang up the black Riddel coaching cleats. Well the time frame just got moved up….. Meyer will have the chance to be at the pulse of the situation, doing a broadcast of the most unusual of circumstances, and if all goes well, it would be a huge Public Relations boon for Meyer if he looks to move into the spot as Top Lion.

Shame on ESPN for putting Meyer on this game. But it just proves to all of the conspiracy theorists out there that when it comes to football in particular, and it does not matter if it is NFL or College, ESPN has a far reaching spread of influence that borderlines on monopolistic.

My bet is Meyer will get “ a blank check” at the end of the year to coach at Penn St. This will be his first opportunity to shine in the midst of the current maelstrom.

Let’s all hope for a safe and good game this weekend in light of all that has gone on this week.

Until next time, stay classy Gainesville, Florida

Questions in the Penn State Scandal

November 10, 2011

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This is our third article on the topic of Jerry Sandusky’s arrest and the subsequent impact on Penn State.  That’s a lot of virtual ink for our little publication to give to one story.  However, nearly every writer on the staff is a pretty big sports fan, and this is one of the biggest sports-related stories in recent years – it warrants considerable coverage.  You might even see 1-2 more stories today, as I sent a couple of emails late last night soliciting articles responding to the breaking events.

Last night, heads began to roll, as Joe Paterno was fired after 46 years as head coach at Penn State and university president Graham Spanier was also fired.  I doubt these will be the only people fired. 

Here are some questions about the scandal.  These are presented as they pop into my head, and are not intended to be in order of importance.

What are the rioters thinking?

I understand the mindset of sports fans.  I’m a huge sports fan myself.  I spend much more time thinking about how to abolish the designated hitter than I do comparing the tax plans of Ron Paul and Herman Cain.

However, when the same news story involves kids getting raped and a coach getting fired, the coach is not the victim.  Focus on the kids.

What did Graham Spanier know?

Spanier insists that he knows nothing.  But if he really knew nothing, would he have been fired?  If he was fired without just cause, he’d have a great case for a wrongful termination lawsuit.  I can’t imaging that the trustees would be dumb enough to walk into a lawsuit.  (However, I’ve been wrong about that sort of thing before – sometimes state officials really ARE that dumb).

Interestingly, Spanier is president of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).  If he is removed from this role, will this cause any changes to the BCS?

What did McQueary Tell Paterno?

There’s a discrepancy here.  McQueary says that he told Paterno the details of the shower encounter between Jerry Sandusky and the young boy.  When Paterno spoke with Athletic Director Tim Curley, he says that McQueary told him that Sandusky was fondling the boy or doing something of a sexual nature.

Was Paterno downplaying Sandusky’s activities?  Is McQueary lying?  Is Paterno lying?  Was there a misunderstanding?

However, the point becomes a bit moot when you consider that McQueary then met with Curley and VP Schultz (in charge of the campus police).  Regardless of what Paterno told Curley, McQueary had the opportunity to give his full story to Curley during that meeting.

Why didn’t McQueary stop the assault?

That’s a great question.  The only thing I can say in his defense is that perhaps he was in shock and temporarily lost the ability to make good decisions.

Why didn’t anyone go to the cops?

Another great question.  I heard Mike and Mike on ESPN raise a good point on this issue.  VP Schultz was in charge of the campus police.  Perhaps McQueary and Paterno saw his involvement as police involvement.

It would have been better, of course, to go to the police.

Why did Sandusky have access to university facilities?

Finally, an easy question.  He negotiated a status of coach emeritus, which gave him access to the facilities.

Why did Sandusky retire?

Sandusky stepped down in 1999 shortly after Paterno told him he would not become head coach at Penn State.  The official reason for Paterno’s proclamation was that Sandusky was spending too much time with his charity, and would thus would not be able to devote sufficient time to a head coaching role.

Is is possible that Paterno’s real reason was that he knew what Sandusky was doing and didn’t want to put a pedophile in the head coaching role.  (Isn’t it also interesting that the sitting head coach is making decisions on the future coach instead of the Athletic Director?)

Is it possible that Sandusky’s frustration at losing his shot at the head coaching job served as a trigger to his criminal activities?

Did Sandusky create The Second Mile charity just to troll for victims?

That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Where’s the grand jury report?


Will Joe Paterno Be Fired?

November 8, 2011

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This is the last hurrah for Penn State Football coach Joe Paterno.

News of the allegations against former football assistant coach Jerry Sandusky permeate the newspapers, talk radio, and the network newscasts. I will not delve into that topic here. There is a grand jury document that can be found doing any reasonable search on line. The information is graphic, horrific and deplorable.

I will not take the time to attempt to “judge” as many are doing right now the rights or wrongs of Joe Paterno in this incident. It is clear he was made aware of a situation. It is clear that he did report the situation to his immediate contacts within the University. What is not clear, and is being questioned is why he did not do more?

Paterno will be forced to leave after this season as the football coach of the Nittany Lions. Some would argue that he would retire this year anyway, as he has finally secured the record for all time wins from College football Icon Eddie Robinson.

Unfortunately this will be the thing that Paterno will be most remembered for in his post coaching days.

We have seen it before. In no way am I trying to compare the severity of incidents between the coaches at these various programs. But legacies can be tarnished based on decisions that are made, and then become debated for years to come.

Woody Hayes was the heart and soul of the Ohio State Buckeyes, had his career end by throwing a punch at a player on the opposing team during a bowl game.

Most of you reading this are too young to remember or know, but Ohio State played Clemson in December of 1978 in the Gator Bowl. Ohio State Quarterback Art Schlichter threw an interception late in the game that was intercepted by Clemson nose tackle Charlie Bauman. Bauman returned the interception to the Ohio State sideline and upon getting back to his feet was punched in the throat by Head Coach Woody Hayes.

Hayes was ejected immediately from the game. He was fired the next day by the University.

Other college coaches have had their legacies tarnished by decisions they made. Nebraska’s Tom Osborne, who won three National Titles is still often most associated with his handling of troubled player Lawrence Phillips.

Phillips started his junior campaign with a bang, leading the Huskers to a large victory at East Lansing, where he led the Huskers with a four touchdown, 200 + yard day on the ground. This instantly vaulted him to the top of the Heisman talk. This lasted about two days as he was arrested for assaulting Kate McEwen, a Nebraska women’s basketball player. He was suspended from the team, but brought back at the end of the season for the bowl game against the Florida Gators. Phillips had a large role in that game, left for the NFL, where he continued to get into various troubles with abuse and assault incidents even after being given chances with a variety of teams.

There are many others, that have not been so eye popping as these. The sex scandals involving Rick Pitino, the University of Colorado Football team, the player shootings at Baylor and even Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach getting fired.

The upcoming weeks and months will be interesting to say the least.

Jerry Sandusky Arrested For Sexual Abuse

November 5, 2011

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A year after Ohio State’s tattoos-for-trophies scandal, another Big 10 school finds itself in trouble.  This time it is Penn State.  On a day in which they didn’t play a game, they still made the news – in the worst way possible.

Former Nittany Lion defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky – once thought to be the successor to legendary coach Joe Paterno – was arrested Saturday on 40 criminal charges related to alleged sexual abuse of eight boys between 1994 and 2007.  Sandusky met the boys through a non-profit organization called The Second Mile, an organization with this stated mission: “The Second Mile challenges young people to achieve their potential as individuals and community members by providing opportunities for them to develop positive life skills and self-esteem as well as by providing education and support for parents and professionals addressing the needs of youth.

In addition, two officials with Penn State – including athletic director Tim Curley – also face charges for failing to report allegations to proper authorities.  After a graduate assistant witness one sexual assault, he contacted Joe Paterno, who reported the incident to Curley.  Curley and VP for finance and business Gary Shultz were charged with failure to report and perjury after a grand jury deemed that they had lied while in front of the grand jury.

While Paterno is not accused of any wrongdoing, I do feel that he and the graduate assistant could have taken things a step further by reporting the allegations to the police, as well as to university officials.  This wasn’t an issue of an NCAA violation, but allegations of a serious crime.  For the moment, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they reflexively reported it up the chain, just as they report anything else.

This is a good time to reflect that any of US, if we found ourselves in a similar situation, should also report the allegations to the police.  Don’t simply report it to a superior and assume that it was taken care of.  In this case, Sandusky was finally arrested nine years after the graduate assistant first notified Paterno – and the assaults continued for five years after the 2002 incident.

If the allegations against Sandusky are true, then he deserves to spend a long time in jail.

If Athletic Director Curley is guilty of lying to a grand jury, then the best course of action for Penn State would be to fire him.  You don’t want to have people with such poor judgment in positions of power at your university.