Reaction to NCAA's Penn State sanctions; Mailbag (Cont.)
Will the NCAA allow football players to transfer next year and any subsequent year during the four-year period without having to sit out a year? Obviously this ruling falls mere weeks before the start of fall practice, and it seems unreasonable to think most of these players would have the time and opportunity to look for a new school to transfer before practice/classes begin.
-- Chris Kimbell, Dallas
Penn State players can transfer up until the 2013 preseason. Other coaches can pursue them like they're recruits, so long as they notify Penn State of their interest, and the players can keep taking official visits throughout the year. It seems to me this ultimately will cause the most instability and thus pose the biggest challenge for O'Brien in managing his roster. Guys may recommit now but change their mind in a month or two. That, of course, directly impacts not only the current roster but also the recruiting needs of the program going forward.
Finally someone got this right! You have never written a better or more factual article than this one about the hypocrisy of the NCAA.
-- Robbie Lindsey, Birmingham, Ala.
You couldn't be more wrong on this. I for one welcome an attempt to initiate culture change and if Emmert is the one to do so, so be it.
--Michael Young, Kansas City
Stewart: Can you give us your take on what the Penn State sanctions mean to the Big Ten as a whole? The loss of a premier program from championship or bowl contention for four years is basically making it a two-horse race in both divisions (Ohio State and Wisconsin/Michigan and Nebraska) although Iowa and Michigan State are both competitive. Also, Ohio State has a bowl ban this year as well. If I were Jim Delany, I would really be sweating it out right now.
--Jerry, Gainesville, Fla.
Well here's the first problem for the Big Ten: One-third of the teams in the Leaders Division are ineligible for the championship this year due to failures in leadership. Still want to keep those names, Delany?
There's no question that the Big Ten will take a hit. Mind you, Penn State went through a down period before, posting losing records four times in five years from 2000-04. It didn't noticeably affect the league then; Michigan was still humming along, Ohio State was just emerging as a power under Jim Tressel and teams like Northwestern, Purdue and Illinois enjoyed moments in the sun. But Penn State also didn't lose much of its luster, either. There was constant speculation over whether Joe Paterno should retire (which, as we learned later, his impotent bosses tried and failed to convince him to), but Penn State, for the most part, was still Penn State.
Now it's likely that Penn State's profile will diminish considerably. It will no longer be a king, or maybe anything close to it. The conference added a fourth marquee, national-brand television draw last year with Nebraska; now it's essentially back to three. I don't know that it will affect the league's on-field reputation that much -- it should still be able to produce four or five Top-25 programs in a given year -- but it could end up costing the conference a fortune when it negotiates its next network television contract in 2014-15. If Penn State is abysmal, carries a stigma and no longer draws eyeballs, it could devalue their rights considerably.
The media has been beating the drum of "culture change" surrounding college football ever since we realized the full weight of the Penn State scandal. But I haven't seen one sports writer take a critical look at the media's role in creating this culture. I followed SEC Media Days coverage on Twitter and it was embarrassing -- and this is from big-time, national college football writers. How, in your opinion, can the media do its part to usher in a "culture change?"
--Dan, Ankeny, Iowa
As I wrote last November after the scandal broke, we need to stop lionizing coaches. During SEC Media Days, ESPN ran a graphic comparing the five-year records of Bear Bryant and Nick Saban (they're almost identical) under the header "Another Legend in the Making?" Seriously? Saban is the best coach in the country today, bar none, but the guy already has a statue of himself, and now we're throwing around "Legend?" Message not received, apparently.
It's unrealistic to think the media will ever stop glamorizing coaches and players. It's sports. Heroes and goats are intrinsic to wins and losses. But I don't think it's unreasonable for we in the media to perform our own "gut check" to stop and remind ourselves that we don't know our subjects intimately. I know a lot of coaches personally. Many are very nice guys. We have good conversations. But I'm not qualified to speak about anything beyond their personalities and coaching acumen. I will praise a coach for his offensive innovation or his refreshing candor, but I will never again hold someone up to be some grand statesman or role model. I hope many of my colleagues feel the same way.
If the NCAA gig doesn't work out for Emmert, he can always go to NASCAR. They change the rules every week too.
--Dave Gardner, Salem, Mass.
Or he can just run the BCS.
I think it more likely that, after a series of stories at the onset of this year's football season, Penn State's football program will suffer the same fate Indiana University's basketball program did a few years ago: fading into a temporary, yet well-deserved obscurity. Reporters can only repeat the same line so many times and, once the current players have left, the Penn State story will be finished.
--Frank Riely, Floyd Knobs, Ind.
I agree to some extent, but this was obviously a much more publicized scandal than Kelvin Sampson three-way calling recruits, and the penalties far more severe. While the Hoosiers certainly dipped into obscurity, there wasn't much doubt that they'd eventually return, whether under Tom Crean or someone else. And once they did, most nonpartisan fans were happy to see it. With Penn State, much like SMU, there are questions if the Nittany Lions can ever return to prominence. If they do, it will be interesting to see whether the public is willing to turn the page and embrace the reinvented program or if the stain of the Sandusky scandal will turn Penn State into a terminal villain.
Sir, While your opinion is well reasoned, you may have missed the bigger picture: By punishing Penn State THIS hard, THIS quickly and THIS decisively, the next coach in Paterno's position will think twice about "protecting" his program by concealing criminal activity by one of his subordinates, even when it does not rise to the level of raping children.
--Warren Nitti, Paramus, N.J.
While I fear that's wishful thinking, I sincerely hope you're right. Ultimately, what matters most here is not the process, not the punishment, not the repercussions for Penn State or the Big Ten, but that something like this never happens again. If the NCAA is somehow responsible for that, it deserves all the praise in the world.