Will Penn State players stay or go?
See the vultures?
There are flocks of them veering their way to the middle of Pennsylvania.
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, who inherited a mess normally reserved for Presidents and publicists, took the appropriate high road Monday with his comments after the devastating punishments handed out by the NCAA.
“I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead," he said. "But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university."
What O’Brien probably didn’t know was that he’d have to re-recruit his own players. With the bowl ban handed down Monday morning, no current Nittany Lion will ever have a chance to play in a bowl game or in the Big Ten championship game.
Players talented enough to play Division 1 football are used to having success. They’re all about winning. There’s about to be less of it in State College, Penn.
The $60 million fine is made palatable by the fact that Penn State can pay it out over five years. The vacated wins are really just historic footnotes to a horrific series of oversights and a slap at what was left of Joe Paterno’s football legacy.
The most painful aspect of most NCAA punishments is that the current student-athletes are affected by the transgressions of those who came before them and just had to take it. This is where the sanctions imposed by the NCAA and agreed to by Penn State become startling:
“Any current football player at Penn State can transfer without penalty.”
It is the fairest and, at the same time, most crushing aspect of the NCAA rulings this morning.
Players who had never even heard of Gerry Sandusky and didn’t sign up for this horror show should be allowed to escape the darkness.
The next week or so will be compelling. The news of the day sent Division 1 football coaches scrambling to find out who is on the Nittany Lions and who might have interest in "pursuing a new athletic avenue."
Unseemly doesn’t begin to describe this process. But there has been very little that is seemly about any of it.
You’ll have the pressure of the situation and teammates trying to keep the Nittany Lions together. You’ll have players and their parents shopping for a new and better situation. You’ll have coaches who will be sheepishly extolling how they have the perfect situation for the quandaried kids.
And, regardless of who stays or who goes, you’ll have a shell of what used to be considered THE most ethical football program, led by THE most ethical coach in the nation.
Even as the NCAA levies a crushing blow in an effort to restore ethics in college football, the drive for success is so intense that others will pick at the carcass of State College.
The question for the Nittany Lions who have already been through so much -- “Do I get out while I can?”