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July 23, 2012

The Culture Problem

Filed under: Football — Chas @ 12:19 pm

Some of the choice words from NCAA President Mark Emmert:

“As we evaluated the situation, the victims affected by Jerry Sandusky and the efforts by many to conceal his crimes informed our actions,” said Emmert. “At our core, we are educators. Penn State leadership lost sight of that.”

According to the NCAA conclusions and sanctions, the Freeh Report “presents an unprecedented failure of institutional integrity leading to a culture in which a football program was held in higher esteem than the values of the institution, the values of the NCAA, the values of higher education, and most disturbingly the values of human decency.”

“We cannot look to NCAA history to determine how to handle circumstances so disturbing, shocking and disappointing,” said Emmert. “As the individuals charged with governing college sports, we have a responsibility to act. These events should serve as a call to every single school and athletics department to take an honest look at its campus environment and eradicate the ‘sports are king’ mindset that can so dramatically cloud the judgment of educators.”

Strong words, but do they really mean anything in the big picture of trying to send a message about the culture where, ” ‘Sports are the king’ mindset”?

I doubt it. Penn State was served up as the pound of flesh. But little changes

They deserved their punishment. Don’t get me wrong on that. I may have some qualms about the whole procedure and aspects, but Penn State had something big coming.

I can’t honestly say that this will do jack for the football or sports is king culture. What happened within seconds of digesting the penalties, their impact and the fact that Penn State players will be able to transfer with immediate eligibility?  The flurry began about how to grab kids from Penn State. About the present verbals and poaching them.

I don’t pretend to be innocent or any better. I was trying to figure out how many open scholarships Pitt had on its roster for transfers (six spots and thin at OL, DL and LB), and then available scholarships with potential decommits from PSU. Who Pitt might target.

The beast continues. The punishments today were necessary. But their impact to changing the culture. Nil.

Paul Jones has been a major disappointment so far at PSU .. with grade and discipline issues plus not living up to his 4-star status so far (4th on QB depth chart last year.) It also should be realized that despite the presence of 5 and 4 star QBs, a walk-on has started most of the games last year and NFL scouts aren’t exactly knocking down the door at Beaver Stadium

Comment by wbb 07.24.12 @ 7:49 am

I’m thinking along completely different lines than some that I have seen posting here and elsewhere. I do not expect Pitt and Coach Chryst to throw a lot of invites out there to PSU players or recruits.

Chryst and staff have shown themselves to very deliberate recruiters so far and at Wisconsin. He appears to be much more interested in finding his type of player rather than being concerned about the number of stars or what others think. Time will tell whether that works or not. I’m not really expecting Pitt to get more (or try for moremuch more)than 3 players maximum. Maybe not that many.

Comment by Bowling Green Panther 07.24.12 @ 8:06 am

wouldn’t mind getting some linemen though — either side of the line of scrimmage

Comment by wbb 07.24.12 @ 8:10 am

All true PITT fans should thank the administration for their tempered approach to athletics at PITT. While they clearly acknowledged the need to remain competitive and successful, they have never done it at the risk of academics. If you have ever listened to Nordenberg speak to the alumni you will quickly realized that he will speak for 30 mins on the accomplishments of PITT (Rhode scholars, total grant money, department rankings, average) and never once mention sports. The quarterly mailing that the University sends to the alumni always highlights accomplishment of the university beyond sports. Today we should all be proud that while sports is important at PITT it doesn’t define our university. Those at the top understand the true mission of the University. If that were not the case then today we would be headed to the B12

Comment by Pitt Fan In Atlanta 07.24.12 @ 8:16 am

Frank-I was wrong about players being able to transfer after the season, which changes my view of what will happen to the current players. I agree that most are likely to stay of only because they don’t have enough time to investigate their options. They may lose a few, but I doubt Pitt picks up much from that group.

I still find it hard to believe they will hold on to recruits (let alone get new ones), but stranger things have happened.

Comment by Pantherman13 07.24.12 @ 8:33 am

As a Pitt fan, I take no pleasure in any of this. Joe Paterno, dispite his faults, ran one of the cleaner programs in the NCAA. He and the Penn state administration, made a terrible decision, not to call the authorities, and put the percieved interests of the university, over the consideration and safety of the kids. This whole tragedy is unfortunate and the fall-out will last for many years. I genuninely feel sorry for the current players and students, who had nothing to do with what transpired. The people in the Penn State community will ultimately be the ones who pay the price.

Comment by Justinian 07.24.12 @ 8:56 am

Dr. Tom, I think Tino will have more success under Paul Chryst. He won’t expect him to do things beyond his abilities. Chryst is no dummy and I believe he will recognize what his players can and cannot do. For Tino it’s a good thing. As the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin he showed the flexibility to taylor his offensive plans around the strengths of his players.

Comment by Justinian 07.24.12 @ 9:05 am

We are all still looking for Tino’s strengths

Comment by Rayhpgh 07.24.12 @ 9:21 am

One does have to wonder, how long it’s going to take the NCAA to start sniffing around Morgantown, I mean, with all the “my Mother is my niece, is my cousin, is my daughter” stuff that’s been going on down there for years.

Comment by Dan 07.24.12 @ 9:36 am

@Justinian–I understand your feelings about this–However, I think you are off target with your sympathy. Your belief that Paterno ran “one of the cleanest” programs, I believe, is among the perceptions you are off about. Yes, he apparently (as far as we now know) didn’t run a program that paid players $$s under the table or blatantly cheated like the SMUs, USCs and Miamis. However, he seemingly always and regularly circumvented University and local law enforcement rules and procedures to keep his players available and eligible to play and had the “pull” to do so with University and local public officials. In addition, especially in pre-internet days, he was able to keep such unfairly advantageous treatment of athletes vs regular students hidden from public view. The bottom line here is that–at very best–he ran a program no cleaner than the average college football program. And, by always claiming that he ran a squeaky-clean program and contrasting that claim against the relatively few really bad actors among college football programs, he created the myth of the Penn State way of “Success with Honor” that was widely accepted and believed by many; when, in reality, the program’s “honor” was just as pedestrian as that of most programs and, in reality, it was not “cleaner than most” but more or less the same.

As far as the students are concerned, I don’t feel more than slightly sorry for them. They are at PSU, presumably, primarily to get an education, and not mainly to enjoy a winning football team. Their motivations for attending PSU should have been academic and not mainly to be football fans. Those who are also FB players are protected because they are free to transfer without loss of eligibility.

The term “fan” comes from fanatic. Fans are those who have a fanatical devotion to a favorite sports team. They choose to follow that team for recreation and for enjoyment. Their enjoyment typically is greater if the team they have chosen as the object of their devotion is winning.

If you are feeling sorry for them because they will possibly suffer through losing seasons–please don’t. Fans have no inherent right or entitlement to a winning team. PSU fans still will have a team even if it will not be as successful in the next few years and will not, as a result, give them as much pleasure. They weren’t and aren’t “entitled” to even that much in the grand scheme of things. No fan of any sports team is “entitled” to anything. Life and what really matters in life (and its not sports) will go on as before for PSU fans.

FWIW–When I attended Pitt in the late 1960’s there were 3 consecutive 1-10 losing seasons and, as I recall, the best FB season was 3-7. There were no bowl games. Getting some perspective of what it feels like to not have on the field success is a good thing–not a punishment. We enjoy the good things in life more when they are contrasted with the bad (or not so good). When we feel entitled to always have things really good and never have experienced the opposite we become spoiled and selfish! Pitt’s 1976 National Championship was all the sweeter for me as it was juxtaposed against those 3 1-10 seasons I experienced the previous decade.

So, IMHO, this should be a good thing for the PSU students and fans also. It will, hopefully, as the NCAA intends, give them some perspective and teach the important life lesson that life isn’t fair and that we are not entitled to athletic success—particularly when it is preserved by the cover up of repugnant crimes.

Comment by pitt1972 07.24.12 @ 10:35 am

I think the NCAA knows that they are incapable of changing the hearts and minds of the delusional fan who demands “winning at all costs” and that was not the intention of the penalties regarding the goal of “changing the culture”. I believe the intent was to shift the power fronm the almighty football coach to the administration (AD, Pres, BoT, etc). If I were an AD or college administrator and I knew of a severe violation of NCAA rules, or especially of any criminal acts I would definitely think ten times before backing down and submitting to the will of the football coach (even ones as strong as Meyer, Saban and Miles) because the roadmap is now clear as to what the downside is of this course of action. I think the NCAA may have got this one right. However for my taste, I’m a big believer in due process and I’m not sure that the way they got here was correct.
How totally stupid will the NCAA look if in testimony under the penalties of perjury it is determined that the decision to conceal Sandusky’s heinous crimes against children came from a source other than the football program. I think there is less than a 1% chance this will happen, but nevertheless the NCAA will look even more useless and ineffective if it did.

Comment by Taxing Matters 07.24.12 @ 12:44 pm

Taxing matters–I tend to agree this precipitous NCAA decision runs some risk of being proved to be driven by inaccuracies. I thinks that small risk is probably diminished, however, by the fact that the PSU BOT consented to it rather than insisting on a longer more drawn out and thorough process.

Also, even if Paterno himself were found not to be the source for the cover up; but, rather Spanier and others on the academic side of the house; it could still be validly argued that the cover up was done as mainly to protect football. After all PSU football was the face of the university, its “cash cow” and PSU’s primary source of public prestige both athletically and academically. Yes, I believe even academically, at least as far as all but in the eyes of a few ivory-tower academicians.

Comment by pitt1972 07.24.12 @ 2:01 pm

How quickly you forget:

Pitt = Culture

Penn State = Agri Culture

Will never change!

Comment by SFPitt 07.24.12 @ 5:05 pm

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