Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, July 23, 2012

(UPDATED) Monday Grab Bag: Penn St gets the ban-hammer

On top of the continuing problems with the economy, 2012 has seen the Colorado community beset with weather and tourism issues, a series of painful wildfires, and now a senseless tragedy at the Century Theaters in Aurora.  My heart goes out to the victims of Friday morning's atrocity, and I pray that Colorado never again has to deal with this type of pain.

Overall, it has been a tough year for the state.   Sports make for a convenient escape, and this state needs one more than ever.  Hopefully, this fall will provide plenty of opportunity to invigorate this state's psyche.

Below the fold, I'll be talking about the Penn St sanctions, the superlative swingman added to the CU roster, and my Sox falling off the table.  

Click below for the bag...

Penn St given life in prison - 

(UPDATE: Because ESPN can't read and relate the contents of a damn press release, there was a period of about three hours where I had no idea how many scholarships PSU was getting docked.  Through the help of reporters with basic journalistic skills, I've finally learned the truth.  The following reflects the actual damage to future recruiting efforts in Happy Valley.)

After over a decade of abuse and coverup under the guise of protecting the Penn St football brand, the NCAA is finally getting up off its ass, and dropping the ban-hammer on Happy Valley.  The sanctions, announced earlier today, land like body blows on the foundation of the program, and are almost assuredly a harsher long-term punishment than a one-year ban from play would have been.  Between the $60 million fine (and the additional loss of bowl revenue), the 4-year post-season ban, the loss of numerous scholarships over the next six years, and the vacation of all wins from 1998-2011, PSU football is set up to be crushed under the weight of basic arithmetic.
The ban hammer has been levied.  From: Deadspin
While many had called for the "death penalty" to be dusted off, that was never a realistic punishment.  That level is reserved for repeat offenders who repeatedly, and brazenly, flaunt NCAA investigators and officials to gain a competitive edge over their fellow institutions.  While the crimes emanating from the PSU football program are heinous, they don't live up to that standard.  Instead, the NCAA is making swift example of the Joe Paterno legacy, reducing it to ash, and making it clear that coaches and administrators need to take their foundational role in the lives of young people seriously.

If the line is that Penn St was spared the death penalty, then the punishments handed down this morning are an attempt by the NCAA to equate to life-in-prison.  Bud Elliott at SB nation highlights the scholarship cuts in plain language by saying:
"Penn State received a penalty of 10 initial scholarships and 20 total per year. What this means is that Penn State's recruiting class size is restricted to 15 for each of the next four years, and that the maximum roster size for four years, beginning with the 2014 season, will be 65."
While ESPN seems to have forgotten about it (not listing it amongst the highlighted penalties after the announcement), the loss of that many scholarships over the next six years is probably the harshest of the penalties, and will serve to cripple the next generation of Penn St football. Add in the free ability for current football players to transfer out of the program, and the Nittany Lions are about to become a shell of their former selves.  In that light, the loss of postseason eligibility means little, as I wouldn't expect PSU to be qualitatively eligible anyway.

The record expungement, typically a meaningless gesture by the NCAA, for the first time carries weight, as the legacy of Joe Paterno, and his zeal to protect it, are at the heart of the administrative side of the scandal.  No longer is Paterno listed as the winningest coach in collegiate football history.  The mark for which the fallen figure had so strived to achieve is now gone, along with the rest of his failed, faux-moralistic facade.

The $60 million fine may not put much of a dent in the PSU coffers as a result of record donation numbers, but the endowment set up to help victims of abuse may be the lone bright-spot to come out of the whole situation.

I'm still uncertain as to whether the NCAA should've been involved in doling out punishments to transgressions which had no on-field effect whatsoever, but there can be no doubt that the punishments handed down today will have a devastating effect on the future of PSU athletics.  Real justice may never come to the victims of Jerry Sandusky, and criminal proceedings for the rest of the involved administrators are far from conclusion, but this is the latest in a long line of public attempts to rectify a painful situation.  The entirety of PSU athletics now has to pay for putting the brand ahead of the welfare of children.

Xavier Johnson, and the "place to be" -

I never imagined that CU basketball would be described as "the place to be," but that's exactly how incoming 4-star recruit Xavier Johnson described the program in the latest installment of Ryan Thorburn's freshmen interview series.

From poster-izing NBA talent, to ripping boards like Andre Roberson, CU's latest "Big-X" brings in a lot of hype with his top-flight athleticism  (Spencer Dinwiddie even called him a "monster.").  That he chose the CEC over other, more storied destinations, makes his arrival all the more special.
Xavier Johnson in his new home.  From: the BDC.
 Of all the things that Coach Tad Boyle has brought to this program, to be able to go into distant recruiting territory and immediately command the level of respect required to compete for 4-star, top-100 talent, may be the most important.  Xavier's arrival, even more than that of in-state super-prospect Josh Scott, signals that the CEC is the new hotness, and the program continues to position itself to stay for the long-term. 

I can't wait to see the young Californian hit the hardwood, and this article does nothing but continue to whet my appetite.

The long road to failure has begun for My Sox - 

Over the weekend, My Sox saw themselves swept by the Tigers in Detroit, and dumped into second place in the AL Central.  This marks the first time in months that My Sox aren't in pole-position in the race for the playoffs.

This had been coming for some time now, as a brutal July schedule, combining long road stretches with a high-caliber of opponent, coupled with a slump in performance to send the team into a downward spiral.  What worse, with the Tigers playing .750 baseball this month, finally playing to their level, the move out of the penthouse may be permanent.
The addition of Myers is too little, too late to save my sinking Sox
The problems had been simmering for some time.  Middle-order performers like Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko haven't hit consistently in well over a month, and the pitching staff is so injury ridden and young, that an implosion was more inevitable than possible.  Additions like Brett Myers and Kevin Youkilis, while inexpensive, are short-term solutions that do far to little to solve systemic faults, and are ultimately insufficient to help the team catch the surging Tigers.

Still, if My Sox do fail to reclaim their lead, and in-turn miss the post season, I had plenty of fun while it lasted.  I expected this team to lose 90-100 ballgames, and their winning ways in May and June were a very pleasant surprise.

Happy Monday!

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