It’s a scandal. It’s the Big Ten. Conference Chalk is all over the beat. David Mason, Gale Berg, and Conner Anderson come together for an email roundtable about how this impacts the program and college football at large.
Conner: How is this Penn State story just now surfacing? And where was Chris Hansen during all of this? A “To Catch a Predator: College Sports Edition” could have been the been the ratings break NBC has been waiting for since The Playboy Club lasted only 3 episodes. Seriously though, it is incredible that the AD or any other figure who knew of this could fail to report it to authorities. You have to think that eventually one of the abused kids will speak up, and then you will look awful. If reported immediately, the only person who behaved improperly is the offender, in this case Jerry Sandusky.
The biggest question remains if Joe Paterno was aware of any of this information. I’m not sure he even knows who Penn State plays this week, so for this one to slip past him would not shock me at all. With that said, does this give Penn State an excuse to fire Joe Paterno and bring in a younger, big name coach?
David: Joe Pa is out – it’s just a question of whether it’s immediate, or they let him play out the season. I’m putting my money on the latter. The plead of ignorance and fact that he reported this to the AD might buy him the reason of the year. Plus, Joe Pa could die tomorrow and no one wants a tarnished, depressed, and now deceased old man on their conscience.
Once he’s out, what impact does this have on his legacy? Is this what he’ll be remembered for, or will it be a footnote on a brilliant career 20 years from now?
Gale: It’s an appalling story. The fact that everyone around Paterno was somewhat aware means that this will hit him. Even if he’s been on auto-pilot the past 15 years, there’s no way someone at some point didn’t key him in that weird things were going on. Everybody remembers how Woody Hayes left, and while this isn’t a definitive moment like his was, it’s still a major tarnish job on Joe Pa’s legacy.
He was an incredible coach, and no one again will stay around as long as he had (the era of guys coaching into their 70s and 80s is will die with him and Bowden), especially with this type of fallout being the final act.
Another question to consider is, how does the NCAA penalize something like this? It’s not throwing games, it’s not improper benefits to recruits (though the tongue-in-cheek reader will argue it’s improper benefits to coaches) … how does this penalty compare to what USC got or what Ohio State should get?
Meanwhile, Catholic priests everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief …
David: I haven’t had a chance to read through the NCAA rule book, but I’m going out on a limb and assuming this activity isn’t explicitly prohibited. That said, if there are general clauses around the moral behavior of those representing the program, Penn State would be in violation. But this seems unlikely to me. At a minimum, they’ll take a short-term hit. Forget about landing a good class for 2012, and the turnaround time to get a new guard in there will probably compromise 2013 as well. Beyond that, the stigma associated with this could resonate for years. People will associate Penn State football with something new and that’s not a good thing.
With what’s transpired between the Miami scandal and now this, maybe the college football gods are forcing the royal wedding of Penn State and Al Golden. Penn State will need a coach and Golden has to at least consider that he’ll be playing without a full deck for years in Coral Gables. Conner, seeing that Golden is one of your golfing buddies, do you think he’d jump at the chance to take this position? Or is this a job better suited for another up and comer? I heard Charlie Strong’s name being floated around…
Gale: Even with this shakedown, you’ve got to figure the next coach will have ties to the program … that always seems to be how they wanted the succession to be. That would eliminate Strong, right? But Hurricane Al has got to be chomping at the bit.
Conner: I read recently that Al Golden’s lawyer was trying to rework his contract at Miami, since he had nothing to do with the scandals at The U. Clearly, Golden is setting himself up to leave if Miami is destroyed by sanctions, and Penn State is one of the few jobs he would likely want over Miami anyway. A Penn State grad who was able to recruit and win at Temple? This sounds like a match made in heaven, unless you’re a fan of a different team in the Legends Division. Penn State has been able to maintain a high level of success with a puppet as head coach, imagine what they could do with an actual bigtime coach.
If Al Golden was to leave Miami, would it be our boy Mario Cristobal’s time to take over The U?
David: After losing 4 of 6 and failing to cover each week since September 17th, Cristobal’s star has fallen. Apparently the shots we took at him weakened his knees as he’s completely collapsed. However, his ability to excite bettors yet fail to deliver fits very well with Miami football over the last 10 years, so I could see that happening.
The issue I’d be concerned with if I were Golden is how this projects to affect Penn State’s program in the long-term. To me, this is going to be much harder for Penn State to recover over a 10 to 20 year period that your typical scandal. For years, this is the first thing that will come to people’s minds when they think Penn State football. Even with a completely new administration and coaching staff in place, they’ll be at a competitive disadvantage even without sanctions. This has the potential to completely ruin the program
Gale: Yeah, there will definitely be a stigma attached to the program for a long time, but I don’t think he would balk at the job. It’s a power conference, a storied program, and recruiting ground that he’s already had success in. The Paterno regime is such a unique case due to its longevity that a new guy who comes in and has early success (that’s the key) can move past the shadow pretty quickly (see: Fisher, Jumbo). It’s such an odd scandal that it’s hard to predict how this will impact them long-term, but I have to think they can weather the PR nightmare if the new coach can come in and produce. Cliche answer, I know, but Gale Berg lists speaking in cliches as one of his interests on Tumblr.