Penn State, And The NCAA's Thirst For Punishment

A four-year bowl ban, a $60 million fine, and 14 years of vacated wins leaves Penn State a ruined football program. The NCAA had the rare opportunity to rain punishment on a team, and they didn't waste it. That and more in today's Monday Morning Jones.

You happy now? People were so thirsty for vengeance against Penn State that Mark Emmert and the NCAA decided to come to the rescue. Because that's just what this situation needed -- an organization whose reputation is rooted in its inconsistency abandoning protocol to wade into waters clearly outside of its purview. Sure, the NCAA's rules allowed it to punish Penn State -- until recently, one of its model programs -- and the university is going along with the process. That said, people really looked to the NCAA, which is so fundamentally rooted in the wrong, acting on the side of right for its intrinsic value?

Sanctions won't fix anything at Penn State, nor will they prevent this from happening again. If Spanier, Paterno et al were willing to violate the Clery Act -- which endangered Penn State's ability to grant federal financial aid to students -- you think they would have cared about the possibility of NCAA losing lots of scholarships and missing a few bowls?


Amy K. Nelson on the Penn State punishments.

Don't think for a second that obvious point was lost on anyone in Indianapolis. Anyone with a brain could tell this was just the NCAA piling on, taking the rare opportunity to unload on a program with no fear of bad public relations. The harder it hit Penn State, the more "right" it would seem in the eyes of the public. The NCAA's penalties may be corrective and punitive, but they won't be preventative. The NCAA got involved for the same reason the Big Ten wants its chance to punish -- it couldn't lose, so there was no way in hell it would miss the chance to take a shot.

And please -- please -- don't think the public zeal for specifically hurting Nittany Lion football does anything to change the perception that football is more important than everything else. Otherwise, why aren't the prospect of jail time and/or ruined careers for all living, responsible parties to this debacle, the pending loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in civil litigation and the looming specter of punishment from the Feds not enough?

So what will these punishments accomplish? Yeah, let's talk about that...


Penn State Punishment: NCAA Beats Corpse, Demands Applause

Do you really want Mark Emmert to have this much power? These sanctions are basically a plea bargain. Penn State no longer has to wait to see what's going to happen. The NCAA gets a pelt to put on its wall. Neither side has to expend time or resources that it would have were the matter adjudicated as it normally would be.

Remember this deal the next time there's a huge scandal in college sports. Imagine another school in Penn State's position -- with no leverage to fight -- and the NCAA offering the chance to spare the uncertainty of an investigation. And think about how threatening the NCAA could be with the threat of even harsher sanctions after an investigation than would be proffered.

At the risk of all "slippery slope," the NCAA may have stepped into a brave, scary new world. Its harsh punishment of Dez Bryant for lying was a step toward making its investigations easier. Giving Emmert the power to unilaterally punish Penn State is a step toward making investigations irrelevant. And I mean that in the most frightening, totalitarian sense possible. If the semblance of due process can be thrown out to conveniently hammer with a cash cow program -- and cripple its surrounding community and its non-revenue sports with a hefty fine -- what might happen to a player on the wrong side of Emmert and the NCAA's agenda?

Hope you were careful with your wishes, because you may have gotten what you wanted. And a whole lot more.

And the statue is down. Last week, I wrote that Joe Paterno earned the statue that stood in front of Beaver Stadium. I still believe that, but I wasn't hurt to see it removed Sunday morning. I just hope Penn State's decision to pack it up and put it in storage was its own, not one forced by external pressure. While America made the statue its concern, it belongs to the folks of State College. If they wanted the statue up, it should have stayed up. If they want to continue to revere Paterno as if nothing happened, they are allowed their inherent right to make fools of themselves and follow false idols. If history has taught us anything, letting outsiders force internal decisions rarely works out well. Often, it galvanizes those whom outsiders wish to change and makes them more intractable.

Paterno's legacy will not be determined by that statue, neither in State College nor in the rest of the world. That will be determined by individuals with respect to their personal attachment to his works, good and bad. And no matter how much each of us would like to legislate how others feel about Paterno and Penn State, none of us have the power to change people's minds.

The people who love Penn State will eventually come to terms with their history. They don't need our heavy-handed advice on how to do so. And if their shrine to Paterno came down to assuage outsiders, removing the statue could wind up having an effect opposite of what was desired.

Plus, it's a statue. A f***ing statue, people.

Another major won from the clubhouse. Entering the final round of the British Open, only two players shot under 70 each of the first three days -- then-leader Adam Scott and Graeme McDowell. Then Sunday happened to both, which was clear when both shot 36 on the front nine, their worst scores going in all weekend.

Then history happened to Scott, as in an epic choke job. Up four strokes with four holes to play, Scott went bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey, as many bogeys as he had the first three days combined. Where Jean van de Velde lost it in 1999 on one agonizing hole, Scott disintegrated gradually. With each hole came more time to think of what was happening. By the time he was finished on 17, he was perfectly aware of what was going on. And he still had 410 yards -- and himself -- to deal with.

For the second straight major, the winner never held the lead on the course. There's nothing insightful to add. Golf isolates its players and their thoughts like no other sport, and it did Scott in Sunday.

I just hate that he was forced to be part of Ernie Els' coronation, as if not losing as bad as everyone else should make the runner-up glad to participate in the champion's ceremony. If it were me, I'd just want someone to mail my plate. It would be time to go to the airport.

And the obligatory item on non-factor Tiger Woods. Tiger's chance at winning the Claret Jug was effectively over after his triple bogey on No. 6, a blunder that started with bad advice from his caddy and ended with a tap-in after missing a three-foot putt. There's no telling how things would have been different were Tiger a legitimate contender after that disaster, but worse for Woods was that was his 15th straight hole without a birdie. The four birdies he carded after six were neutralized by just as many bogeys. With a major close enough to his grasp to be taken, Tiger went from being consistently average to wildly inconsistent. The result was a third-place finish, further validation that Woods is still the best player in the world, but still not Tiger Woods.

Are the Lions moving to Cincinnati? Usually, the complaints about NFL players getting arrested bore me. Players don't get arrested at rates higher than the general population, and many of the problems they have are endemic in the mainstream. However, when one team has seven arrests in one offseason, including three players with two apiece, it's time to ask questions. Yes, Detroit Lions, that means you.

The Bengals have a long-standing reputation for signing questionable characters, which fell in line with Mike Brown's corporate philosophy of getting the cheapest players he could find. So what are the Lions doing? First-round picks like Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh have had public scrapes with the law. Bargain basement special Aaron Berry, once an undrafted free agent and now a starter, was charged after allegedly pointing a gun at a group of people (and not charged for this similar allegation). Between them is expected starting running back Mikel Leshoure, a 2011 second-round pick who entered the draft with a positive marijuana test from college in his permanent record, got busted twice in a month for pot possession.

Maybe it's just a bad offseason, but it's hard not to look at the Lions with a face that says "you sure know how to pick ‘em." As good as all these guys are, if this offseason is any indication, the Lions may need to learn another way.

Oh no, Michael Vick is confident in his team? Vick said the Eagles could become a dynasty. After Vince Young's overblown "Dream Team" quote last year, you'd think Vick would avoid that minefield. But you know what? Say what you feel, Mike. On paper, the Eagles might be the best team in the NFC. The new pieces they tried to put together after the lockout had their first full offseason together. LeSean 'Shady' McCoy is the best running back in the conference. Philly led the league in sacks last season, have one of the two best cover corners in the league in Nnamdi Asomugha, and shored up its linebacking corps by acquiring DeMeco Ryans. And even without Vick for three games last season, the Eagles finished one game out of the postseason, behind the team that eventually won it all. And Vick, or anyone else in green, shouldn't be excited?

Even Vick would tell you the Eagles now have to put it all together. But any lazy media member who dogs the Eagles by repeating his -- gasp! -- optimism, like many did with Young's benign sound bite, needs to find something better to do.

The pennant race in the NL East is on hold. It'll be another month before baseball games feel important, but we may look back on the Nationals' wins over the Braves Saturday and Sunday at the end of the season. After the fifth inning Saturday, the Braves looked to be 13 innings from taking over first place in the National League East. Now, after squandering a 2-0 lead that day and being smoked on Sunday, the inconsistent Braves are back in the wild card discussion.

Remember how well that went last season for Atlanta, when the Cardinals sucked them up in the standings in September? Well, St. Louis is behind them again -- this time for the second wild card -- sporting the best run differential in the NL. Which is to say, chances are, the Cards will improve on their 50-45 record. Unless the top three teams in the Central beat each other up, winning the East may be the Braves' best chance to make the playoffs. This weekend greatly hurt that cause.

NBA teams will now sell advertisements on their jerseys? Notice something: The NBA will allow teams to sell jersey ads. Meaning the first team to do so may as well wear a scarlet "P" for poverty. What, you expect me to believe a storied franchise like the Celtics will be in a rush to make its jerseys look like a NASCAR fire suits? Some team is going to have to take the plunge and make their unis look as bootleg as U.S. Polo Association gear. Is the money worth looking fugazi? We'll soon see who needs the cash badly enough to go for the minor-league wall aesthetic.

Don't feel bad for Adrien Broner's girlfriend. Lemme tell you what's more embarrassing than a pump-fake proposal -- a real proposal, on national television, that you weren't looking for. You think this woman, with whom Broner says he "just" entered a relationship, wanted the awkward she-won't-say-no-in-front-of-all-these-people proposal? That young lady, looked relieved to dodge that bullet, explaining why she was so willing to brush this fool's hair on national television.

Now, why was that grown man brushing Broden's hair before the proposal? That is what I'm most curious about.

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