The statue is gone

Sunday morning, when most of the world was rolling out of bed, nine men descended on Joe Paterno’s statue with jackhammers and pulled the most embattled memorial to a college football legend right out of the ground.

It took an hour and 20 minutes, but Paterno’s statue was eventually hauled away into safe keeping while a group of Penn State faithful looked on. Some shed tears, some took video and others just watched history unfold in front of their eyes.

But it’s only the beginning.

Monday morning, NCAA president Mark Emmert will hand down punishments to the Penn State football program, and sources are saying they will be “unprecedented.” By definition, that would mean Emmert will dole out something that has never been done before, which is very telling in itself.

Since Emmert has been given the power to make this decision completely on his own, he better not mess this up. He is superseding the old process of punishing programs, which used to be done by a committee. When he pulls a Roger Goodell and becomes judge, jury and executioner, the process will never be the same again.

Some writers are reporting the punishment won’t include the famed “death penalty,” which would force the program to completely shut down for a season or more. In my opinion, hurting the current program is the wrong way to go, because it doesn’t send the right message. What did these kids do to deserve this? Now, you’re going to force them to transfer schools a month before the season starts.

That shouldn’t fly with anyone.

My gut tells me this might have something to do with the program’s past. Vacating an entire decade of wins from the football program would be unprecedented, so that would fit the description of what’s coming. If the NCAA really wants to send the message that character is important, wouldn’t it make sense to remove Paterno from the top of their list of the winningest coaches of all-time?

We’ll find out together what the punishment will be when Emmert takes the podium Monday morning, but the urgency of this ruling makes me wonder if it will include punishments for the upcoming season. If it wasn’t going to affect 2012, they wouldn’t have to move so fast.

And that’s why I figure the death penalty is still on the table.

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10 thoughts

  1. Taking away the title of most NCAA wins? Tough one. Doesn’t feel quite right to take away Paterno’s achievement posthumously. He is no longer around to respond to the accusations. As an FSU fan and alum, I would have loved for Bowden to hold the winnest coach record forever, but I would rather the calculations be made on the field, not by the NCAA.
    Agree that the NCAA needs to be very, very careful. Too tough and sports-included member schools will leave. Too light and academic-inclined member schools will rebel. Glad the decision isn’t mine to make.

  2. This time tomorrow, Bobby will be back on top as D1’s winningest coach. Not the circumstances he wanted the stupid record, but it should be his after this.

    As for the rest of Penn State, the “Death Penalty” hurts too many other school’s bottom-lines in the process of taking down Penn State, so I think a lengthy (3 year) bowl ban and some drastic reductions in scholarships will be the punishment. The school is going the hit and it’s going to take years to get the program back to where it wants to be, but Bill O’Brien knew what he was signing up for.

  3. Since reports are saying the so-called “death penalty” will not happen, there could be loss of TV for a season and/or multiple bowl games. If that’s where Emmert goes, I think they should also give players on scholarship the opportunity to transfer immediately and waive the one-year wait rule. I don’t know if they’ll vacate past wins. I hadn’t even thought about that. I guess this is why Mark Emmert gets paid the big bucks.

    • I agree. If you’re going to punish the players, then extend them an olive branch and allow them to leave the sinking ship.

  4. I see both sides as to why the statue could have stayed and why it was removed. But I hope Penn State is aware that by making the decision to remove the statue, they are making the last 60 years of success (2 National Titles) and building a national powerhouse name for football not only a memory, but almost like it didn’t happen. If my kids, one day, ask me who Joe Paterno was, I will tell them that he was a great coach who mentored students to become great citizens. Yes, the only blemish in his long career was a ginormous one that became the downfall of a great reputation, but if one were to look beyond this scandal, he was a man who inspired and motivated those around him to become better.

    As for the punishments that will be announced tomorrow, it’s unfair to punish the the current student athletes on this team today of actions that took place 15 years ago when they were in diapers. I agree with the idea that if they want to transfer, let them.

    • I don’t think there’s any way to pretend the last 60 years didn’t happen, but by taking the statue down, they are making a statement that they’re no longer idolizing a man who covered up a child abuse scandal, which I can totally understand.

      • And I understand that too. And now with the NCAA punishments handed down, this football program will suffer in the present and in the future for actions that occurred in the past. Is it fair? For the student athletes, no, but I guess the good news for them is that they can transfer and play immediately. But something had to be done to punish Penn State. We shall see how Penn State handles these fines and sanctions on the field come September.

  5. They will likely hold on to most of their players this season, but the next few years are really going to be rough for that football team.

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