Twenty-four hours after NCAA president Mark Emmert shocked the nation and essentially laid down the “modern-day death penalty” on Penn State I take a look at exactly what caused the entire mess to occur, the chances PSU fields a team this year and the immediate impact on the B1G’s Leaders division race.
Of course, we all turn to ex-PSU president Graham Spanier, suspended PSU athletic director Tim Curley, ex-PSU vice president Gary Schultz and, last but not certainly not least, ex-PSU head coach Joe Paterno, when looking to place the blame for the entire mess. But, as indicated by Emmert on Monday morning, a much bigger problem is nationally present than a few corrupt, utterly immoral men holding absolute power in State College, PA. At many major universities across the nation, administrators, coaches, staffs and fan bases seem to elevate certain athletic programs to a very unhealthy level. This “hero worship” is the basis of the cover-up at Penn State and very well has caused/could cause/is in the process of causing many, many other problems at other universities.
As a diehard fan myself, I am the first to admit that it would be impeccably difficult to set aside my ultimate desire for Ohio State football to succeed for the sake of accepting supposedly just NCAA punishment towards my beloved university’s athletic program. As immoral as that may seem, America has seen an
extreme example in the mindset from many PSU faithful. I understand waiting for the Freeh Report and all other investigations to be completed before commenting on the situation, but through message boards and social media, countless PSU fans and alumni indicate their unwavering support for Paterno and denial of any
wrongdoing of anyone not named Sandusky. This is “Exhibit A” of hero worship. The Penn State football program’s success was considered the single-most important item at the university and was elevated over the well being of children, to put it lightly.
As difficult as it is to move on from discussing something as awful as what happened at Penn State, there are many immediate issues that need to be examined. For one, the instant eligibility for players wishing to transfer from PSU has a drastic impact on college football in 2012. Assuming players utilize this unique opportunity and decide to move on to another school for the remainder of their college years, one poses the question, “Will Penn State even be able to field a team in 2012, 2013 or 2014?” Considering scholarship reductions, bowl bans and the general stigma assumed when playing football for Penn State, one would assume that a large number of players would choose to leave Penn State or not attend the school. Only time will tell, but I fully expect PSU to compete and field a team in the coming years. Granted he is really faced with no other choice but first-year coach Bill O’Brien has said all the right things and seems to be determined to not allow this to fully cripple Penn State football. Penn State has had unbelievable alumni support, and initial reactions from top 2013 PSU commits TE Adam Breneman and QB Christian Hackenberg seem positive. However, I still am not confident that many current recruits sign with the Nittany Lions come February when all is said and done. Even worse, rumors circulated late Monday night that current PSU starting RB Silas Redd (and arguably the best player on their roster) is strongly considering transferring to USC (how ironic…). Rival college coaches are certainly licking their chops, but, for the sake of the damaged PSU fan base and the B1G, I wish the best to Coach O’Brien in his effort to retain as many players and recruits as possible in the coming years.