Tuesday amounted to another not-quite-banner day for the NCAA, plus Craig James saying stuff, an LSU legend passing away, some colorful AAC gamesmanship and more.
NCAA reducing Penn State sanctions
The NCAA announced Tuesday intentions to reduce scholarship reductions imposed on Penn State following the Jerry Sandusky scandal. PSU will have 20 incoming scholarships, 75 overall in 2014-15 and a full 85 by 2016-17. That brings the Nittany Lions' roster to full capacity two years earlier than the original sanctions allowed for.
The decision was recommended by Sen. George Mitchell, the integrity monitor assigned to Penn State. Between the university's acknowledged compliance with the sanctions and early implementation of suggestions in the Freeh Report, the NCAA elected to reduce the scholarship penalties and allow room for PSU's bowl ban to possibly be lifted down the road. From the NCAA:
"While there is more work to be done, Penn State has clearly demonstrated its commitment to restoring integrity in its athletics program," said Mitchell. "The university has substantially completed the initial implementation of all the Freeh Report recommendations and its obligations to the Athletics Integrity Agreement, so relief from the scholarship reductions is warranted and deserved."
Consistent with Mitchell's recommendation, the Executive Committee agreed the existing postseason ban, $60 million fine to help fund child abuse programs and other sanctions outlined in the consent decree will remain in effect. However, the group may consider additional mitigation of the postseason ban in the future depending upon Penn State's continued progress.
"Providing relief from the scholarship restrictions will give more student-athletes an opportunity to attend Penn State on athletics scholarship while also creating an incentive for the university to continue its progress under new leadership after President Erickson's impending departure," said Mitchell.
The reaction to the NCAA's decision was wide-ranging. SB Nation Recruiting's Bud Elliott dove into the scholarship numbers to lay out just how big this result is for Penn State, while Jason Kirk termed the NCAA's actions as "paddling back to shore." Various Penn State players, alumni, coaches and administrators also naturally had significant reactions of their own.
Former LSU coach Paul Dietzel passes away
Paul Dietzel, LSU's head coach from 1955-61 and best known for leading the Tigers to a national title in 1958, passed away Tuesday at the age of 89.
Dietzel engineered LSU to three top-five finishes in his time as head coach, and also served as athletic director from 1978-82. He also became Army's first non-graduate head coach in 1962, staying there through 1965. Dietzel also spent 1966-74 as South Carolina's head coach, followed by athletic director stints there and at LSU, Indiana and Samford.
Dietzel's lasting legacy at LSU and in college football as a whole, aside from the national championship, was the "Chinese Bandits," a unit of second-string defenders known for aggressive play who were used en masse thanks to (since-discarded) substitution rules. The unit buoyed LSU to its title in '58 alongside Heisman-winning offensive back Billy Cannon, and Dietzel brought the tradition to Army as well.
Craig James claims 'religious discrimination' was behind Fox Sports' firing
Craig James was a longtime -- and wildly unpopular, in all honesty -- college football broadcaster who parlayed that negative attention into an incredibly short-lived tenure as a U.S. Senate candidate. Tuesday, he claimed his firing just a few days after his hiring at Fox Sports was due to his "personal religious beliefs."
"I was shocked that my personal religious beliefs were not only the reason for Fox Sports firing me, but I was completely floored when I read stories quoting Fox Sports representatives essentially saying that people of faith are banned from working at Fox Sports," James told Breitbart News. "That is not right and surely someone made a terrible mistake."
James continued, "I have worked in broadcasting for 24 years and have always treated my colleagues with respect and dignity regardless of their background or personal beliefs. I believe it is essential in our business to maintain professional relationships with people from a diverse background and have tolerance for those of different beliefs. I have never discussed my faith while broadcasting and it has never been an issue until now."
James ran for a Senate seat in Texas during the 2012 Republican primary, garnering just 3.6 percent of the vote. In addition to his politics, which most notably address an anti-gay marriage position, James was widely panned as an ESPN broadcaster.
While James' opinions and comments on homosexuality have angered some -- and, to be fair, pleased others -- he was not a popular broadcaster in his days with ESPN before his Senate run. In addition to bringing little to the booth beyond tired clichés and obvious, mundane analysis, his credibility took a massive hit when he played a major role in getting former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach fired.
Temple 'pinking out' Louisville
A "Pink Out" at a college football game might draw, to some extent, a few eyebrow-raises initially. And while that's precisely what Temple will be doing when it hosts Louisville Saturday, the intent is to have fans wear pink to the game at Lincoln Financial Field to help boost breast cancer awareness.
Still, many Temple fans aren't exactly thrilled about the "forced" color change. Much of that is due to the heavily anticipated hosting of a top-10 team, as well as the fact that getting non-students to adopt these game-by-game practices isn't always easy.
Fortunately, SB Nation's Louisville site, Card Chronicle, is able to lend some insight:
I don't know where this fear is coming from, if the Pink Out is half as successful as the Temple volleyball team's Hawaiian Night last season, then I'm sure it will be a rousing success.