This blog has not generally been devoted to critical coverage of other universities' football programs, with the occasional notable exception. But Penn State deserves some heat today. I used to respect Penn State. I used to consider the Nittany Lions to have a lot in common with the Fighting Irish. They respected tradition, with their old-school uniforms and their old-school coach. I felt that Penn State was one of the schools that "got it" with respect to the "student" part of the phrase "student-athlete," like Notre Dame does. I used to think that Joe Paterno ran his program with integrity. In recent years, my perception of Joe Pa and PSU started to erode, as evidence began to accumulate that getting star players on the field and winning games was a higher priority than setting a good example and doing things the "right way."
But today I am over Penn State. The scales have fallen from my eyes, and I clearly see that PSU is just another big state school with a big-time football program driven by over sized expectations and demanding alumni. Penn State is no different from Florida State, Oklahoma, Arkansas, or Tennessee. In fact, the Lions would probably be every bit as comfortable in the SEC as in the Big 10 + 1.
In scanning the news this morning I came across a story that makes no sense to me. Apparently, Penn State will permit players who have been expelled from the "university" to practice with their football team even while still expelled from school. From the article:
Two Penn State football players ordered to stand trial for their roles in an off-campus fight were expelled from school for part of the summer but will be allowed to take part in preseason practice.Translation: At least two of the players allegedly criminally involved in a frightening Spring melee will be "expelled" from Summer school (which starts July 3rd) but will still be eligible to practice with the football team when it starts Fall practice two weeks before the end of the Summer session from which they have been expelled. Is that even legal? Does the NCAA permit persons who are not enrolled at a university to practice with the football team for said university? And even if it is legal, can this be seen as anything less than a total sellout? The punishment for these players is that they don't have to go to class this Summer but they still get to play football. Wow, that's harsh.
Defense attorneys ... said ... their clients will be expelled for the second summer semester, which begins July 3.
[The attorneys] said the players will be eligible to participate in preseason practice, which begins around Aug. 5, a little less than two weeks before the end of the second summer session.
Maybe the story is being reported wrong. And I don't want to get into a debate about the guilt or innocence of the accused players. But if you are expelled from school, doesn't it seem like a fundamental principle that you should be expelled from the extracurricular activities at the school as well?
But lest you think Joe Pa has lost control of his team and his players, be warned that you too could find yourself picking up litter in Happy Valley if you misbehave. Or if your teammates misbehave. Now that's accountability.
It's time to go, Joe.