Anyone with an e-mail address, a social media account, a television, or a subscription to a newspaper (yes I’m one of the few in the world that still has one of those), knows full well the sanctions that were laid down by Steve Emmert, President of the NCAA on Penn State.
While these sanctions provide minimal relief to the victims and families who were affected by the transgressions of this university, it was refreshing to see the NCAA do everything in its power to attempt to punish PSU. From the get go of this whole situation I said that the entire administration needed to be fired. Then when facts came out and we learned about the “cover up” I felt that PSU needed to take it upon themselves to shut down the program and to allow the community to heal. Since PSU was unwilling to take such a moral stance (no surprise there), I am glad that the NCAA did what they could to negatively affect the football program.
I believe that many of those who believe that the penalties weren’t harsh enough don’t fully understand how these sanctions work. Let’s start with the bowl ban. You cannot attract the top talent coming out of high school by telling them “Come be a part of the PSU family, play really hard, but no matter how well we do, you will not ever be able to compete for a conference or national title in your four years here.” What’s the point of playing if you can’t play for championships? PSU will still get a solid recruit here and there, but nothing like what we saw in the past.
Onto the scholarships, it will be eight years before PSU will have a senior class of 25 scholarship players. So between now and 2021 almost half of every class will consist of walk on players who were not worthy of scholarships at other schools. And let’s be honest, many of the scholarship players that PSU will have will be fringe scholarship worthy players as it is. Many kids who a decade a go never would have been worthy of a scholarship to PSU will be getting offered and accepting to play there.
The on field product is going to take a very serious hit.
As for the vacated wins, I have never been a fan of vacating wins. I always thought doing that was kind of silly. Sure, according the record books the “Fab Five” never happened. Yet there have been documentaries and books written on their success. I remember as a child watching them tear through college basketball and introducing swagger to the sport. Yet according to the NCAA it never happened.
This is this first time that it was imperative to vacate wins. And it wasn’t just a couple. 111 wins were vacated. Essentially Joe Paterno’s name has been wiped from the record books. While you can’t wipe away the lasting memories he created on the field for their loyal fan base, I won’t have to come across his name in record books and have a constant reminder of the things he was associated with.
There were other sanctions involved, but from a competition standpoint these hurt the most. Many people said that PSU would have been better off with the death penalty. And they may just be right. The death penalty would have essentially pointed to 2014 or 2015 for a fresh start for PSU. It likely would have involved suspending the team from all competition for either this season or 2013 and reducing scholarships to 50% for a year or two with a bowl ban for the same time frame with all sanctions being lifted by 2014 or 15.
Instead, PSU is going to struggle through four grueling years of far below average talent in the Big 10. No bowls for four years and probably zero nationally televised games. Only to start the rebuilding process in five years when they can bring in their first full recruiting class. That class will only be the start; they will still need two to three full classes behind it to start to build a competitor again.
Fact of the matter is, if you’re not familiar with NCAA sanctions, these penalties may not seem that step. But the truth is PSU will be virtually gone from the college football scene for just short of a decade.
I do believe however, that if many of the juniors and seniors stick around, that they will have a successful season on the field in HappyValley. We’ve seen it before, a team coming together through adversity to post a successful season.
To the players who had the unfortunate luck to be duped by such a horrible group of men, I wish them well. To the fans who are outraged by the actions the NCAA took against PSU, I truly weep for your soul. You obviously have no feel for what happened at PSU and are dead inside.
Let’s hope that this is my last column on the PSU story. Soon I will be moving my focus to another team that is ineligible for post-season play, the Buckeyes of THE Ohio State University. Follow me on Twitter for all thing Buckeye football @kylecedwards713