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Sunday, July 15, 2012

NCAA must strip Paterno of record

This was written in the Tallahassee Democrat - not by me.
The wins record should go.
There, I said it. We all should say it.
Joe Paterno's name should no longer sit atop the record books as the winningest coach in major college football history.
Call it punishment. Call it the right thing to do. But don't call it self-serving.
This isn't about Bobby Bowden backing his way into the record. Bowden himself would take no pleasure in any of it. He would prefer to be carried off the field following a victory, the way he was in 2003 after passing Paterno to claim the top spot.
No one wants to receive the ribbon years after the race.
But this isn't about Bobby Bowden. It's about the guy Bowden's career has been linked to for so many years, and unfortunately will be for eternity.
The guy who allowed a child rapist to continue preying on the innocent to save his empire. Who took Win At All Costs to a level we've never seen before. Who essentially tried to protect his legacy by sacrificing young boys to a monster.
That's why the wins record should go.
And people in Tallahassee, and people who support Florida State, should not be embarrassed to take that stance.
While fans and media types around the country are focused on removing Paterno's statue from the Penn State campus and shutting down the football program, it's only natural that people who follow Florida State are more focused on the wins record. That's how we have identified Paterno for so many years.
In the end, we all want the same thing. We want honors to be reserved for the honorable.
And Joe Paterno deserves no such distinction.
I certainly understand sports are not morality plays — that the good guys don't always win, and the line between good and evil is sometimes indiscernible — but that doesn't mean we should ignore everything that takes place off the field and outside the classroom.
How could we ignore this?
While some have said the entire sordid mess is outside of the NCAA's purview, we all should argue the exact opposite. If the NCAA can't penalize a coach and university that likely committed crimes by covering up heinous, violent acts by one of its leaders, then what is the point of existing?
If you strip this down to its base, you have a head coach, athletic director and university president conspiring to cover up crimes that would have cost them their jobs, damaged the university's ability to recruit top players, and ultimately hurt the football program's chances of winning more games.
That's no less an NCAA violation than boosters paying players or tutors providing answers on tests. And if Bowden could be stripped of victories because of an academic scandal he knew nothing about, then Paterno damn sure should lose wins that occurred after he took part in covering up rapes in 1998.
The wins record should go.
Not because Bobby Bowden deserves it.
But because Joe Paterno doesn't.

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