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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