By Josh Kramer
Think back to November 22, 1997. On that particular day in history, Penn State defeated Wisconsin 35 to 10 at Beaver Stadium. Mike McQueary was the starting quarterback and Jerry Sandusky was the defensive coordinator for Penn State. Talk about the irony. After Mark Emmert and the NCAA officially came down with the wrath of fury on the Penn State football program yesterday morning, this somewhat insignificant day of nearly 15 years ago will go down as the final victory of Joe Paterno’s career.
I know this will be hard for many of you to believe, but I am floored by the NCAA’s extremely harsh punishment on Penn State. This punishment makes the infamous death penalty of 25 years ago at SMU look like child’s play. I realize what went on at Penn State was arguably the most egregious act ever to occur in collegiate athletics. I am well-aware of the magnitude. These were despicable acts, but ”criminal” acts at their core. I feel the NCAA has completely overstepped their bounds and now are making current players and coaches, who had nothing to do with these horrific acts, pay the price. And yes, I feel for the victims and their families who are still feeling the pain of the monster that is Jerry Sandusky. Their pain is far deeper than that of the current players and coaches.
First of all, the NCAA did not conduct their own audit and analysis of the tragic events. When has the NCAA ever acted this quickly to a situation? They went off of the Freeh Report, which I along with the rest of the country believe to be entirely true. When prosecuting against someone, typically, a prosecutor should conduct their own research and provide their own findings (or at least confirm the validity of others findings). Mark Emmert and the NCAA felt the need to set a precedent and act swiftly though. This is understandable under these very unusual circumstances and Emmert most certainly acted. The NCAA felt the need to lay the hammer down and nothing was going to stop them from doing that. I am fine with this.
Take away Paterno’s wins and Big Ten titles. The man lived a lie for 61 years. Does it really change the excitement that the fans and program felt at the time though? Ask USC football fans this same question. Feel free to fine the University and send this money to the charities for the children. Though it should be known that the NCAA is supposed to be a non-profit organization, yet they are fining Penn State as if they are one (which they in essence are). Hopefully the money can help make a difference in protecting children moving forward. If the NCAA must impose their will, then both of these punishments are fine and completely warranted. But the four years of heavily reduced scholarships and four years of bowl-bans is where Penn State is taking the real hit. This is where the NCAA really overstepped their bounds.
I really do not have a right answer on how this should have been handled. Your guess is as good as mine. Sometimes in life there are situations where there is no right or wrong answer. This is one of those situations. Also, sometimes doing what someone has to do doesn’t make it right (the NCAA had to act in some manner). I do know that the culprits involved have been jailed, resigned, or have passed away. I also know that the most important thing is that there are no more victims moving forward.
A few things are for certain now. Penn State has officially fallen off the mountain. Happy Valley will not be a “Happy” place for a long time now. Joe Paterno will never be looked at the same way. Bill O’Brien has officially taken on college football’s version of Mission Impossible. And the Nittany Lions are now officially the Duke Blue Devils of the Big Ten. Jim Boeheim and Syracuse administration should be terrified at what could happen moving forward if the Bernie Fine accusations are found to be true.
Is Moneyball back in Oakland?
Fresh off of a four-game sweep of the best team in baseball, the Oakland A’s are straight cruising. No Brad Pitt involved this time. The A’s have won 29 of 44 games in the months of June/July and 14 of their last 16. They have an astonishing 11 walk-off wins and still are only seven games over .500. The return of Moneyball has been fun. But don’t count on it lasting, at least not this year.
One of the all-time worst
Not too many stories in golf can overshadow what is becoming known as the “Tiger Tease.” Adam Scott pulled off the improbable, and in doing so, proved he had more in common with Greg Norman than just simply his Australian lineage. Sunday’s inexplicable choke-job enabling Ernie Els to capture his fourth Major title was bad, but not quite as bad the Norman/Faldo hysteria at the 1996 Masters. So kudos to Adam Scott on having a bad enough choke-job to take the spotlight off of Tiger Woods at a major tournament.
USA all the way
Team USA basketball is still the team to beat, but you better believe that they have shown vulnerability in their two tests thus far (Brazil and Argentina). They may be dressed like the team from 20 years ago and appear to have the same swagger as the “Dream Team,” but they simply don’t have the size inside. Team USA will go all the way in London, but it won’t be easy.
Name change to change the game?
Chad Ochocinco has decided to change his name back to Chad Johnson. I remember the good old days of Palmer to Johnson. The former Bengals star is going to need to do more than change his name to change his game though. I stand by what I said a few weeks back. Ocho (Johnson) is still a no go.
Just some “Food for Thought.”
Let me hear your thoughts though. Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.