DALLAS – The NCAA hammered Penn State football Monday.
Four-year bowl ban; $60 million fine; scholarship reductions from 85 to 65 in a couple of years; removal of 109 Joe Paterno victories since 1998.
Harsh. Harsh and punitive.
But let's be clear about something. The victims in this case have not changed.
It's not Paterno's legacy nor his delusional family nor Penn State's athletic department nor its alumni nor the citizens of what once was known as Happy Valley.
And that truth comes from Paterno's peers. That comes from the Big 12 football coaches.
“It's a terrible situation,” Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said Monday during Big 12 Football Media Days. “The victim is not Penn State. The victim is all the people who were abused.”
The NCAA delivered frontier justice on Penn State about one hour before the Big 12 coaches arrived at the Westin Galleria. Which meant they could not avoid the obvious line of questioning.
“Not really up to me to judge,” said Bob Stoops. “Just incredibly tragic. That's the only way I can describe the whole thing. I don't know all the facts. I'm not one to judge.
“But in every way, in every way possible, children should always be protected by adults. And that's all I would say about it.”
What else needs to be said?
From the Paterno family's continued ridiculous statements to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel's absurd defense of Paterno last week to the still-clueless antics of Penn State students, we can lose sight of what happened.
Young boys were horrifically damaged in the name of perception and reputation and power.
I don't agree with NCAA president Mark Emmert using his authority like this. I don't believe this was an NCAA issue.
But I'll give Emmert this. His NCAA podium Monday was in reality a mountaintop. He stood up in Indianapolis and shouted to Penn State University that it didn't protect the children. And everything else is just background noise.
“I think perhaps the lesson that will be taken away from it,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who until this month was an athletic director, “is that things can get pretty far afield when there are people running the show that don't ever get frank feedback and don't ever have anybody push back against them in terms of recentering their decision processes.”
That's a lot of good words to say this. Accountability. Penn State was not accountable. Paterno was not accountable.
Paterno hired a monster in Jerry Sandusky to help coach football, then his football program became a monster itself.
Football factories are all over the place, including this very conference. Misplaced priorities are not uncommon. But this misplaced? Haven't seen it.
Haven't seen it anywhere.
“Bottom line, I have always been aware of who I answer to,” Stoops said. “And that is the athletic director and president. That is Joe Castiglione and David Boren and ultimately our board of regents. I have always been very aware that I work for the university.”
Funny the things you learn. Stoops told us Monday that his best teacher on the rightful order of power came from an unlikely source.
“Here was a guy who really brought the success to Florida before they had much, a Heisman Trophy winner,” Stoops said. “As popular and strong a figure as he was, he always made us assistants aware that he answered to athletic director Jeremy Foley and the president.
“The university's always going to be bigger than any of us.”
Again, leave it to Stoops to provide simple clarity. Joe Paterno became bigger than Penn State. That was the fault of both Paterno and Penn State. And it led to the destruction of a legacy.
Which is interesting but not tragic. Tragic is the destruction of some young boys' lives.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.