Oh, yeah. The more the football culture changes, the more it remains the same. The hypocrites at the NCAA really outdid themselves with their mandate to change the dreaded football culture at Penn State.
“Still, six coaches on a private jet provided by a car-dealer booster and a desire to helicopter a seventh off a cruise ship: this is how the NCAA is changing Penn State’s, and America’s, ‘football culture.'” —Mark Wogenrich, themorningcall.com
Sure, Emmert exacted sanctions upon the Nittany Lions that would somewhat force a lessened role for football in relation to academics, but in doing so, gave other schools the impetus to take a quantum leap in fortifying their own football cultures, which are growing like bacteria in a Petri dish.
Illinois sent a cadre of coaches to State College to let it be known that Illinois would provide a safe haven for any PSU player who wanted to transfer. Meanwhile USC, still on probation, unleashed its entire arsenal in pursuit of one player: Silas Redd. Big donors, private jets, emergency meetings — they spared no expense. The staid, conservative folks in State College never knew what hit them.
Mark Wogenrich of Nittany Lines provides details of the USC pursuit game, which was all legal under the sacrosanct NCAA rules.
Players are leaving Penn State to advance their careers, not because Penn State has sanctions against it. Well, that’s what Former Nittany Lion wide receiver Graham Zug Tweeted, anyhow. Not much of a difference there. The sanctions make these guys less visible to the honchos at “the next level”, and the sanctions also enable them to transfer to more visible (read “winning”) programs with impunity. I can say a lot about team spirit and sticking together, but these young guys have a life they’re just starting, and they must make decisions now that will affect them over the next 50 years. It’s easy to sit on one’s ass and pontificate about them being traitors, but we all have to look out for our own interests sometime!
Practice begins Monday, so the transfers are likely to abate for a while. At the end of this most interesting season, we’ll undoubtedly be touching on this subject again. A major exodus of experienced talent with remaining football eligibility could be forthcoming at that point.
But I digress, as usual.
A Sunday article by Ivey DeJesus of the Patriot-News asks the big question: Does the university’s football culture need to change? The Freeh report demanded it, as you know, and the NCAA in the personage of president Mark Emmert reiterated that demand. But DeJesus writes:
A change agent for a university like Penn State and others like Tennessee, Alabama and Michigan, where football is pre-eminent, is more likely to be a streak of losing seasons and the loss of football luster, as opposed to dictates from independent authorities.
That’s right. There’ll be no revolutionary changes if the guys on the field do their job and the coaches do theirs. That’s what they’re hired to do. (The coaches, anyway. *bites tongue*) However, at this juncture for Penn State, the NCAA has created an epic fail scenario for the football team for perhaps up to a decade. Will the students, alumni, and fans weather the storm and come out stronger, or will their actions (i.e., half-filling the 108,000 capacity stadium) dictate that the program be formally de-emphasized?