Penn State needs to shut down football program on its own

Berry Tramel: Cleansing is needed in Happy Valley. It's not the NCAA's job to do so. Penn State should voluntarily walk away from football for a while.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 17, 2012


photo - FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2008 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno surveys the field before an NCAA college football game against Oregon State at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. NCAA president Mark Emmert says he isn't ruling out the possibility of shutting down the Penn State football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.  In a PBS interview Monday night, July 16, 2012,  he said he doesn't want to
FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2008 file photo, Penn State coach Joe Paterno surveys the field before an NCAA college football game against Oregon State at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. NCAA president Mark Emmert says he isn't ruling out the possibility of shutting down the Penn State football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. In a PBS interview Monday night, July 16, 2012, he said he doesn't want to "take anything off the table" if the NCAA determines penalties against Penn State are warranted. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) ORG XMIT: NY160

Penn State's football crimes were not the typical win-at-all-cost variety. Not what you've found at Ohio State and Southern Cal and Miami in recent years. Not what you found in the SEC and the Oklahoma schools and the Southwest Conference in yesteryear.

The Penn State offenses were status-at-all-cost. Protect the image. Protect the legend. Protect Paterno's grand experiment.

SMU got the death penalty for paying players, which allowed the Mustangs to win football games they might otherwise have won. Penn State should get the death penalty for turning a blind eye, in the name of football reputation, to the emotion and physical safety of vulnerable, fatherless boys.

The corruption is in the water in State College. The only tonic is dig a new well. Self-banishment.

Penn State's new leadership — whoever that might be; my lands, what a vacuum — should stand united. Tell its legions that the culture that allowed Jerry Sandusky to roam and prey and keep keys to the Penn State locker room as recently as last November, can be extricated only by scorched Earth.

A do-over. By walking away from football and coming back later and starting from scratch.

Sounds like the NCAA is at least considering such an act.

Emmert told PBS he's "never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university.” He said he doesn't want to “take anything off the table” if the NCAA determines penalties against Penn State are warranted.

Like I've written, this isn't the NCAA's business. This is out of the NCAA's league. And it wouldn't help anyway.

The Penn State culture would only be galvanized by outside interference. Penn State was the ultimate closed society. It can only be changed from within.

I don't know who has the clout to push through such a mandate, though my pal Matt Pinto suggests the Pennsylvania governor should get involved.

Maybe it needs to go that high. I mean, Penn State football, even post-Paterno, didn't have the common sense to turn down a trip to the TicketCity Bowl last winter.

It would take impressive leadership to do what's right. But without impressive leadership, the culture of reverence for Penn State football is not going to change.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.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.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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