Disappearing from the field for entire seasons, losing most if not all of a roster, simply isn't better than being permitted to play through a series of restrictions, no matter how severe.
In Penn State's case, we now know there was a push among several NCAA leaders to employ the death penalty again. School officials were so troubled by this that they negotiated for five days for a stay of execution.
They knew, too.
As for the hammer that eventually did hit Penn State, the reduction in scholarships will cause the real damage moving forward. Similarly, USC will struggle in coming seasons but to a lesser degree because its scholarship restrictions aren't as severe.
The Nittany Lions have suffered a series of player transfers, although the Trojans are proof that defections on their own aren't necessarily debilitating.
The celebrated $60 million fine? The vacating of past victories? No impact on what Penn State football will be in the future.
And, as for the idea that being banned from postseason play is a crippling obstacle, we'll let someone who just emerged from such a sanction refute that one.
Lane Kiffin was asked how much of a difference there is this season - in terms of spirit or emotion or desire - now that his Trojans are again eligible for the conference title game and a bowl.
“I don't think about it daily,” he said. “I don't think they (the players) do, either. It's not like we sit in meetings and talk about it. We don't really discuss it, at all. I don't know if it has a whole lot to do with the daily interactions with your kids.
”When you're at ‘SC, you're always going to have big games that are like bowl games anyway. I don't all of a sudden think that game becomes bigger than others. Honestly, I don't think there's been any impact at all.“
Penn State is off this week. The Nittany Lions then resume with a game at Iowa, where the Hawkeyes already have lost this season to Iowa State and Central Michigan.
After that, a home game. At night. Against Ohio State. Before all those unrelenting supporters. On ESPN.
And the death penalty would have been better than this? Now and eventually, too? Ridiculous.
Distributed by MCT Information Services