All through this saga, fans from other parts of the nation, put off by Paterno’s holier-than-thou attitude and the idolatry it spawned at Penn State and beyond, have taken no small glee in the sudden downfall.
Of course, no one’s going to tell them to get their priorities straight. As Penn State reeled, the big power conferences held their Media Days at swank hotels with hundreds of media and fans present and hanging on every word.
This was especially true at the SEC soiree, where hundreds of Alabama fans showed up just to get a fleeting glimpse of Nick Saban walking to his press conference. They already have a statue of Saban outside Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, even though the city is still recovering from a devastating tornado in April 2011.
Will the same folks that railed long and loud against Penn State, post-Sandusky, offer the same kind of sustained chorus against the SEC crowd? It’s doubtful. If actual crimes are involved, then education comes first. Otherwise, it’s the same old song and dance.
A worse kind of hypocrisy emanates from the college presidents themselves. While they offer homilies about placing grades ahead of the gridiron, they also have lorded over wholesale conference shifts and expansions entirely based on the pursuit of more and more dollars, without uttering a peep of protest.
And when, in a couple of years’ time, college football finally gets to its four-team playoff, and the TV bidding wars might prove as intense as any seen for any recent sports property, will we hear Mark Emmert and his merry men utter the same platitudes about a misplaced emphasis on football ahead of education? Again, it’s doubtful.
This leads back to the critical question of what Penn State ought to do now. Some think that the school can only redeem itself by distancing from football, for that’s where all the evil took place.