I don't really break down the columns of sportswriters much any more, because everyone's entitled to their own opinion. But one of the few non-SEC matters that I've taken a pretty strong position on over the last couple of years is the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State -- which I support -- and Dennis Dodd's latest column against those sanctions is deeply weird.
So let's take a look, shall we?
But those Nittany Lions players are still suffering the same penalties that were handed down in 2012. Among them, a four-year bowl ban that affected young adults who had nothing to do with the scandal. That alone may have turned up the current heat on the NCAA and president Mark Emmert.
It's one thing to take four years to penalize Southern California or to take Jim Tressel out at the knees. It's another to tell those innocent Penn State players in a tangential way that they're going to be paying for the criminal sins of a predator.
First, I think that the twisting of the NCAA's investigative powers and what arguably amounts to an abuse of the legal system of the United States in the Miami case has more to do with the heat being turned up on Emmert, but whatever. Nobody ever likes the enforcer because he or she is the enforcer, so choose your reasons for hating him.
The next paragraph is where things start to get strange. Hurting kids who had nothing to do with the wrongdoing at Southern Cal -- which basically boiled down to extra benefits for one player -- and punishing kids who had nothing to do with Ohio State players getting discounted tattoos is not as bad as punishing kids who had nothing to do with an athletics department's efforts to cover up sexual abuse committed by a high-ranking employee. Got it.
Really, though, all this is just the warm-up for what Dennis Dodd is trying to say here: The NCAA should repeal its punishments against Penn State because they've won football games. Really.
Bill O'Brien kept the program afloat, winning eight and seven games despite having no postseason to sell to his players or recruits.
That's 15 wins, the same amount as a fully loaded Michigan had in the same two seasons. ...
It looks like NCAA's attempted arson of the program will be doused. There's a future for Penn State football, something that couldn't be assured two years ago. In that sense, the ongoing lesson is that the NCAA never should have punished the innocents in the locker ro[o]m.
I don't know that I've ever heard anyone make the case that someone's punishment should be made more lenient because it hasn't hurt them enough, but that's the logic here. It's so bad, but it's not as bad as people thought it would be, so repeal it? Couldn't you just as easily say that the program has survived with less of a letdown than SMU, meaning that the NCAA balanced sending a message to the program and others like it without completely obliterating Penn State?
And why even bring up win totals? What does that have to do with anything? The dispute over the sanctions handed down to Penn State is about the jurisdiction of the NCAA and whether the Association had a moral responsibility to act -- not whether or not Penn State can win. It's all rather bizarre.
Penn State integrity monitor George Mitchell is close to issuing another update on the school's compliance progress. The NCAA assigned a lengthy list of targets for the school to adhere to in the wake of Sandusky (Athletics Integrity Agreement).
Last year's Mitchell report (see above) was encouraging, as was a December update. A similar favorable report must lead the NCAA to rescind the remaining two years of the bowl ban.
Congratulations, Penn State; you've managed to not cover up the monstrous crimes of twisted individuals for a whole two years now. You deserve a humanitarian award, or something!
But if you're not convinced yet, that's only because Dodd has yet to break out his best point yet.
Ending this Penn State affair is not only common sense, it's good business sense for the NCAA. A group of five congressmen wrote Emmert recently asking that all the Penn State penalties be dropped.
It's interesting to note here what Dodd apparently forgot to note: That all five of the congressmen in question are from Pennsylvania. I'm sure that there's not the slightest bit of election-year political grandstanding going on there.
Setting that aside, though, let's look again at the essence of what Dodd says here. Dropping the Penn State sanctions amounts to "good business sense." Forget the fact that Penn State covered up violent acts, possibly helping to allow crimes against children to continue -- THINK ABOUT THE BENJAMINS.
One of the things I try very hard to do -- I don't always succeed, but I try very hard -- is to understand the views of people I don't agree with. There are some valid reasons to consider dropping NCAA sanctions; I disagree with all of them, but they exist.
Few of those reasons appear in Dennis Dodd's column. Winning and business sense aren't what's wrong with the NCAA sanctions against Penn State. They are why those sanctions were necessary to begin with.