Sports

Sanctions Fallout: Where Does Penn State Go From Here?

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Let the rebuilding begin.

It’s been quite a 48 hours for Penn State football fans. Only ravaging penalties that are nearly as bad as the death penalty has moved the removal of the Joe Paterno statue off the front pages so rapidly.

There could be many things to quibble about with all this – from how did NCAA president Mark Emmert have the ability to do this in the first place to why exactly did the wins from 1998 to 2001 get forfeited when the police were aware of and fully investigated Jerry Sandusky allegations in 1998.

In fact, it would be easy to work yourself into a lather about a lot of what has happened over the last two days – and indeed the last nine months.

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But that would be looking through the rearview mirror and, really, where we need to be looking now is through the windshield.

This isn’t a commentary on whether the sanctions are appropriate or not. Some horrible decisions were made and, worse, not made. All of which led to more heinous crimes. Clearly, something had to be done. For better or worse, though, we at least know now what those sanctions are.

There will not be any more crazy speculation about shutting down the football program for 1, 2 or more years.

It’s time for everyone to try and move forward and out of this dark abyss.

Sure, there will still be a few more weeks of the media bugging the recruits and now current players about their commitment to staying at Penn State, but now everyone knows what exactly the penalties are and everyone can finally make a decision about his future with the program.

I’m sure there will be a few recruits to leave – and that is certainly their prerogative. There will probably be a few players to leave as well – and, again, that is certainly within their rights. They should have the opportunity to take advantage of the ability to leave if they don’t want to be a part of the program any longer.

Judging from the initial reactions of some of the players, I would suspect that the actual number of players that leave will be far fewer than all of the national pundits think.

First, Penn State is still a world-class university and, contrary to popular belief, many of the players actually like it here. Secondly, they still have a great opportunity to be coached by this coaching staff, which has even greater ability to prepare players for the NFL than the last staff.

Does a player want to play in a bowl game or give himself the best possible shot of playing in the NFL?

Look, I am not saying that these sanctions aren’t devastating – because they are. But for those who think it’s worse than the death penalty, I don’t buy it.

I think the ability to still play in the Big 10 with this coaching staff still gives these players a chance compete and shine against the best. The continuity of the program and coaching staff will only help as it goes through these sanctions and then emerges on the other end.

No, Penn State is going to win 10 or 11 games in the upcoming years. The team will be hampered by scholarship losses for years to come.

But for all those saying that it’s like a FCS program (based on scholarship limits) playing in the Big 10, that’s simply not true.

The scholarship limits are where the comparison begins and ends. The facilities, the quality of players, the competition, the coaching staff, the fan base  - they are all at the top of the FBS list.

It will be a difficult few years for Penn State football but I don’t at all expect it to run away and hide like SMU football has done for two and a half decades.

Yes, it’s been a terrible nine months for Penn State and a particularly horrible day. But this day had to come before steps could be made to start to rebuild.

Let it begin today.

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