Fourteen months after narrowly avoiding 'the death penalty' Penn State is back in the game.
The NCAA announced it will gradually restore the scholarships taken from the football program starting next season. Still to come could be an announcement that the four-year post-season ban may be lifted as well. The cap on scholarships was set to begin in 2014 and has been drastically reduced. Instead of spending three years with 20 less scholarship players the school will now be allowed 75 in 2014, 80 in 2015 and the full allotment of 85 in 2016.
The original sanctions were handed down 14 months ago by NCAA President Mark Emmert. In the heat of the moment, the NCAA over stepped their bounds. In trying to avoid the dreaded 'death penalty,' Penn State signed off on a punishment that was misguided and out of the NCAA's jurisdiction all together.
When Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse, there were many who deserved to be punished. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. Had the late Joe Paterno not passed away, he surely would have been part of the investigation along with other high ranking officials accused of covering up Sandusky's wrong-doings. The institution itself was fined $60 million and that has not been reduced.
But the truth is, none of the guilty parties still roam State College. The admission by the NCAA that it took out its frustration on the wrong individuals is a welcome one.
Coach Bill O'Brien and his players have done nothing wrong and deserve the good news delivered Tuesday. Their star freshman QB Christian Hackenberg committed to play at the school despite the penalties and O'Brien himself took the position knowing trying times were ahead. The coaches and players like Hackenberg deserve to avoid punishment in this mess, being that they had nothing to do with it.
Nothing will ever change the terrible events that occurred on the Penn State campus, but allowing a new group of student-athletes and coaches their chance to put the pieces back together for a once storied football program was the right decision by the NCAA.
The ruling allows 45 more students sitting in high school classrooms across America will eventually sign letters of intent to not only play football at Penn State, but to earn an education they may otherwise never have gotten. It's not often that pundits say the NCAA gets it right and this time they nailed it.
Other notes from around the NCAA:
- Teddy Bridgewater became the first FBS QB to throw for 4 TD in three games this season. He's in line to be the top overall pick in next year's NFL draft – but it's a shame his Louisville Cardinals don't play a single tough game this season. Even if undefeated, they have little chance of making the national title game because of their cream puff schedule.
- Florida State beat lowly Bethune-Cookman by 48 points. The impressive part was their defence won the game 8-6, they didn't need the extra 46 points from Jameis Winston and the 'Noles offence.
-Ohio State backup QB Kenny Guiton got another start on Saturday against Florida A&M – he promptly broke the school record with 6 touchdown passes. He achieved the feat part way through the second quarter. The Buckeyes did not throw a single pass in the 2nd half of their 76-0 win.
- UCLA showed a lot of class in their first home game since the passing of WR Nick Pasquale. The team ran their first play with only 10 men on the field, Pasquale was their 11th man. Bruins players came to the game wearing t-shirts with his number 36 on them, and fans were given towels with the number as well. The team also held a sign that said "thank you Nebraska". When hosting UCLA last weekend, the fans in Nebraska showed class last week releasing 200 blue and gold balloons as a tribute.
- Clemson WR Martavis Bryant will be disciplined by Coach Dabo Swiney for a throat-slash gesture after scoring a TD. Last week it was TJ Yeldon forced to sit a quarter for mocking Johnny Manziel with his celebration. It seems like after every tackle, first down or TD these days we need to watch a show from some player craving the spotlight. What happened to handing the ball back to the official and getting back to the line of scrimmage? Good on the coaches for trying to put a stop to it all.
- Anyone worried about how Wisconsin would run the ball without Monte Ball can be at ease – the Badgers have two players in the top 10 in rushing yards. Melvin Gordon leads the nation and James White is right there with him, they've combined for over 1,000 yards in four games.