Over the last few days, a lot of talk has been put into whether or not the NCAA should enact the death penalty. Is it legal? I don't care. All I know is I am hurting, not for a school thousands of miles away from the Forty Acres, but for a man I respect more than any other.
My father graduated from Penn State in '79. He met my mother there on a chance meeting where he borrowed her roommates TV to watch a football game. In a way, my very existence is a byproduct of Happy Valley. JoPa was the role model he used growing up. I've rarely seen him as happy as when we cheered ole ball coach against Aggies at the 2007 Alamo Bowl. And if I am shaken, I can't begin to fathom his pain.
So - when you are fighting for the very soul of your university, what else can you do besides something drastic? For me, the question is not what the NCAA, or society for that matter, does to Penn State, but what will this university, one that has constantly claimed to hold themselves to a higher standard, do to itself. Forget an imposed death penalty, Penn State should voluntarily suspend football operations until further notice. And here's where to start:
Pay the support staff for the year, but put them to work elsewhere. Work with the NCAA to offer your football players the choice of transferring without penalty, or covering 4 years of academic scholarship outside of the football program. But let there be no football played in Happy Valley this year.
Remove Paterno's name from the stadium, the library, and for heavens sake - take down the statue. Even a lifetime of service towards higher ideals can be undone when supposedly good men fail to act to the standards they create.
Might the Paterno family sue to keep the names based on their donations? Give the money back if required. Penn State can't begin to heal with tainted money or no one has really learned any lesson.
And, most importantly, if after a year if an independent panel feels Penn State has not made enough progress to change the culture of collusion, do it all again.
Will it hurt? Of course it will. In fact, it will hurt a lot more good people than those who created this awful reality. But the only thing that really speaks in college sports these days is money, and if it didn't hurt what incentive would there be the next time someone is put in the position to create a coverup? Because unfortunately with things like this, there is always opportunities. We can hope to serve the victims, and ourselves better next time.
The only way Penn State can save itself is to take matters into their hands before someone else does. So please Penn State, voluntarily suspend your football program until it is ready to be the beacon you always claimed it to be. Don't allow yourself to play the role of NCAA's victim. Because deep down, you know you aren't one.
Become the school my father always thought you were, instead of twisted one you turned out to be.