September 5, 2012
Just like I do anytime I discuss something that has anything to do with football at Penn State University these days, I want to first and foremost say that there is nothing more important then the victims of the child abuse crimes committed by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. With that said, the healing process began on Saturday with the first football game not to be coached by Joe Paterno in over sixty years. As we all know, Penn State’s football program was given historic penalties by the NCAA: No postseason play for four years, loss of $60 million dollars, reduction of scholarships, and a vacation of all wins between the years 1998 and 2011. After the historic penalties came down, I said PSU would struggle to defeat good mid-major teams, let alone teams in the Big Ten Conference and other power conferences. While I figured these struggles would rear their ugly head very soon, I didn’t think we would see them in Week 1 of the college football season. On Saturday, PSU lost to Ohio 24-14 at Beaver Stadium. If this is any preview of things to come for the next few years, then it’s time to get used to seeing Penn State at the bottom of the conference standings. In the Ohio game, the Nittany Lions didn’t score a point in the second half after jumping out to a 14-3 lead. The explosiveness and team speed just isn’t there. I do applaud head coach Bill O’ Brien and the rest of the players for deciding to stay after the punishments came down, but it’s going to be a tough, tough time until these sanctions are lifted. Even though Penn State experienced the first of many losses to come on Saturday, this should be the least of their worries at this time. Obviously, the reasons why they are under these sanctions are unprecedented and unlike anything we’ve seen in the NCAA. There’s no right way to recover from this other than to attempt to move on and work towards the future. The cleaning house process has already began (which I personally think is the best way to go about this). There are numerous ways that PSU has to recover, and football seems to be the first thing that comes to mind. Yes, football is a way to help healing, but it is far from the most important thing in this case. The situation and life in general is far more important than any sport could ever be. The crimes that happened at Penn State in the years prior is a scar that probably will never go away. This is, and always will be and should be, about the victims of these acts. This is about protecting our youth, and no football program is above that. Having said that, Penn State’s football team will be looked upon as the people to help lead a revival of a university that will be known in many people’s eyes as tarnished forever. That, in my opinion, is the battle that matters the most. No win or loss on the football field is nowhere near as important as that.
By Charles Taylor