I hate when children are punished for something they didn’t do.
I despised it when I was a kid.
It makes me grit my teeth when I see parents do the same to other children I encounter.
It’s just not fair.
So that takes us to the sports topic of the week – the Penn State scandal and the bone-crushing penalties laid onto the school’s football program by the NCAA.
The child punished in this case did nothing wrong.
The NCAA gets another one wrong.
Riddle me not surprised.
OK, let me start by saying that my case for leniency is in no way an endorsement of anything that happened within the school’s athletic department.
I’ve listened to sports talk radio all week and for whatever reason, a pro-leniency approach is viewed as a Pro-Jerry Sandusky opinion.
That couldn’t be further from the case in my stance.
Covering up any crime is wrong and should be cause for termination.
Turning a blind eye to child molestation is even worse and is one of the absolute worst things a human being could possibly do.
I believe that harsh, stiff penalties should be levied onto everyone responsible for both the crime itself and the subsequent cover-up.
Sandusky should (and will) spend the rest of his life in prison.
The coaches who aided the cover-up should be fired (they were) and also blackballed from the profession forever (time will tell).
Joe Paterno’s entire legacy should be shamed (it is) and everything he has ever done within the profession should have a big-fat asterisk of doubt (in public opinion, it does).
The athletic department officials who knew this was going on and didn’t take action should also be fired (they were) and they should also be prosecuted for their criminal actions.
If found guilty, the corrupt officials and so-called school leaders should join Sandusky in the cafeteria line at the Pennsylvania State Pen.
So with all of that said, that brings me to the meat of my argument – did the NCAA’s penalties really do anything to penalize the actual wrongdoers for their misdeeds?
Because from where my eyes are looking, the only people who will suffer are innocent bystanders.
The coaches with the program now are all new. They had no ties to Jerry Sandusky. They had no knowledge of any crimes or cover-ups.
The players committed to play for Paterno, yes.
But they were never coached by Sandusky. They never were affiliated with, nor involved in this scandal in any way.
Why should they be banned from postseason play for the remainder of their careers for a scandal that happened before their time?
Why should their entire college career be defined by a crime they did not commit?
The NCAA unfairly punishes another one.
Again I say – riddle me not surprised.
Language semantics aside – let’s be real: Penn State football got the death penalty from the NCAA.
Sure, it’s not the same death penalty that SMU got in the late 1980s where the program had to forfeit a full season after allegedly having a complete payment plan in place for its players.
But even without the year-ban, Penn State’s punishment is actually worse.
Everything in today’s modern college football is based on money and recruiting.
The program was never going to be strapped from TV – that’s not fair to the Nittany Lion’s opponents who deserve to have their share of revenue gate.
Likewise, they were never going to be entirely scrapped from a season – too much money would have been lost for the conference and also its other members.
But the fact that those options were not available to the university make this sentence more sharp than any ever laid upon college football.
SMU was able to hide in a corner and lick its wounds.
Penn State will have to field a team – and be smashed by 40+ points every game.
College football recruits are fickle.
Once a program has a reputation, it sticks for a very long time.
With a four-year scholarship ban, Penn State is not winning any significant games until the 2017 season.
Their restrictions are more harsh than those laid onto USC. Sure, the Trojans were never awful, but they also had a shorter sentence and are bred from a more rich recruiting state.
Penn State does not have that luxury.
They will be woefully outclassed in talent by everyone in their conference.
Even once the bans are lifted and they can field a full team, players will be reluctant to play within the program.
Why go to a 2-10 program when you can go to other Big 10 powers like Ohio State or Michigan?
Losing is contagious in college football because of perception.
Once in the gutter, it’s very hard to get out.
The NCAA has sunk the Nittany Lions’ program into the pits of despair. They have dropped them to levels lower than SMU could have imagined reaching.
And to me, that’s not the proper method of action.
Because no one within the program now, nor in the future had anything to do with what went wrong within that program.
The obvious question then becomes – what should have been done?
That’s the dilemma – I don’t know.
The fine was nice and is a good start.
But after firing and prosecuting everyone involved, what more can be done?
All I know is that a bunch of kids on the team now are serving the death penalty for a crime they didn’t commit, nor know about.
The kid who did nothing wrong is being punished.
Again, I repeat.
It’s just not fair!