Saturday, November 24, 2012

Football sanctions. Fair or foul?

And so it came to pass. Notre Dame and Ohio State finished the regular season as the only undefeated major college football teams. A 2012 pre-season poll had OSU at #18, and Notre Dame barely hanging on at #25. It would likely be a fair statement to say that, when the dust cleared, few would have foreseen these two teams to be the only ones without a loss.

No doubt, Notre Dame will be heading to Miami for a shot at the national title. While remaining "independent", the Irish football program doesn't have to worry about a conference championship game still being in the way. They're in.

In a normal year, Ohio State would play in the Big 10 conference championship game and, if they won that, they'd be in too.

But this isn't a normal year. Ohio State's done for the season. No conference championship game, no bowl game, no nothing. They're not going anywhere because of those pesky sanctions handed down a while back by the NCAA on their program over the whole "tattoo-gate" fiasco during the course of their 2010 season. Though for vastly different reasons, like Penn State, the Buckeyes can't go "bowling" this year. 

A look at Penn State first. Though he still maintains his innocence, most everybody knows Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 40+ counts of criminal sexual conduct with various young boys. He's in prison and will never get out -- at least alive. Other members of that Penn State football chain of command are currently under indictment and awaiting trial. The once beloved icon Joe Paterno was forced out and died shortly thereafter. Some say Joe Pa knew about those atrocities but kept quiet. Others, notably his family, vehemently deny such accusations. So who's right? The correct answer is "none of the above". Only one person knew how much Joe Paterno knew -- and when -- and that person was Joe Paterno. I dare say Joe Pa isn't likely to take a polygraph or give a sworn deposition anytime soon. Bottom line? While everybody is entitled to their own opinion -- we'll never know for sure. It's like Ronald Reagan and the highly illegal Iran-Contra affair a few decades ago that cost countless lives. Was the "Gipper" in it up to his eyeballs and let a mere lieutenant colonel named Ollie North take all the heat, or was he truly oblivious to everything that finally came to light? If one buys into the theory that the boss is ultimately responsible for whatever happens on their "watch", then Reagan should have been forced out too. One had airports and libraries named after him, and remains a beloved figure to this day. The other had his statue torn down at the university he loved and served for decades, and will likely never have his name cleared. In the end, we STILL don't know what happened in both instances. Funny, or maybe not, how that works out sometimes.

Of course, comparing Penn State and Ohio State in their current states of "probation" isn't apples and oranges. Given what happened to get them both into trouble in the first place, it's more like hammers and marshmallows.

Yet, there are still comparisons to be made, on certain levels, regarding neither of them being eligible for post-season play this year. Some may be fair, and some may be foul. It all depends on whose eyes one is attempting to see things through.

This has run on long enough. A closer look at such things and certain attitudes next time.

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