Tate: Penn State penalties put coaches in tough spot

Tate: Penn State penalties put coaches in tough spot

CHICAGO — Mark me down as uncomfortable — somewhat uneasy — with Illini football coaches traveling to Penn State in quest of transfers.

We all know it's necessary. But rules allow it, and Tim Beckman has no other choice. With the holes on his roster — the Illini will be short of the maximum 85 next week — he can't sit idle while rivals beat him to the punch. He is doing what he has to do.

Jumping ahead of questions Thursday in the Big Ten meetings, Beckman clarified:

"I want everyone to understand about the PSU situation. As a staff, we talked about this situation, and it was brought to our attention that two individuals were interested even before sanctions were announced. We did not go after them. They came to us. We followed NCAA rules, and we provided names to Penn State's compliance office so they'd be aware before we got there.

"We were in State College but not on campus. We went to two establishments outside campus, where two individuals (athletes) were called to see if they wanted to come by."

Comfort zones

Bret Bielema, coach of Wisconsin's defending champions, has accepted a standout quarterback transfer for the second straight year. Maryland graduate Danny O'Brien will replace North Carolina State transfer Russell Wilson as Badger field general.

But Bielema said Thursday: "This is an unprecedented situation, and I made a decision as head coach we would not reach out to any Penn State players. I'm not casting doubt on anybody or questioning anything, but we made that decision. To bring someone in at this point so close to the season, I just wasn't comfortable with it."

Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald spoke along similar lines: "We are focused about our team and in no way will we reach out or pursue players at Penn State."

Purdue's Danny Hope and Minnesota's Jerry Kill seemed to keep the door open, and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio acknowledged "we do have relationships with players we recruited previously, and we followed through."

Said Hope: "The NCAA has established the rules and, as long as we are compliant, we're going to exercise every opportunity to enhance our football program."

Said Kill: "We have other concerns, but if a young man from Penn State called us, we'd go through the proper procedures."

Commissioner Jim Delany chipped in: "This is not a healthy place for us to be. I argued against it, but our presidents were clear in wanting a full spectrum of options for the student-athletes who wanted to move. This is where the rules are."

For Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien, it is an impossible situation.

"It's like NFL free agency without rules, and as long as they contact our compliance office, they can do that," he said. "I have not talked to Coach Beckman about it."

Punishment too severe

What a mess. What an eerie feeling for all of us when the Nittany Lions show up for the UI's Big Ten opener Sept. 29.

How will we feel then about sanctions imposed by Mark Emmert and the NCAA? At this point, from my minority standpoint, those penalties seem devilishly overdone in the long term.

Here's my view of it.

Jerry Sandusky is in jail and will remain there until he dies. That is appropriate.

The late Joe Paterno's legacy has been ruined. Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and David Schultz have lost their jobs and their reputations, and Curley and Schultz have been indicted for perjury. These are appropriate.

Youths who were wronged by Sandusky and administrative oversight have an opportunity to seek financial redress through legal means. The cost to Penn State will be in the hundreds of millions. This is certainly appropriate.

The Nittany Lion brand has been ruined, and sponsors are falling away.

Running parallel, there was a clear absence of institutional control at the athletic and university leadership levels. So, even though some "experts" said earlier that the NCAA had no business in this, some sanctions were called for because Penn State leaders kept the football brand alive by avoiding their civic duties.

But it is hard to process the enormity of penalties imposed by Emmert and the NCAA hierarchy. Allowing rival coaches to pick over their talent and extending penalties to 2020 border on the excessive.

This is a minority opinion expressed by Brent Musburger and only a few others, that NCAA penalties crossed the line into vindictiveness.

All the individuals involved in the case are already being dealt with. What is the point in invoking generational levels of punishment? BTN's Gerry DiNardo said it will take 10 to 12 years just to start regaining competitive balance.

The feeling here is that too many innocents are being punished for too long.

How long will tough act last?

Emmert's grand plan is to attack the culture of drastically overblown college football and create a better balance between athletics and academics.

This balance was lost prior to 1900 when it became popular, if unwise, to couple this vicious sport with higher education ... and a model was established that can't be changed. The Football Bowl Subdivision is growing at a steady pace, moving from 111 schools in 1995 to 124 (four transitional), and drawing attendance from 25 million in 1995 to a projected 38 million this season.

Emmert is certainly successful in dimming the lights at Penn State. But nobody is turning off the brights anywhere else. This NCAA action won't draw more than a blink in Texas. Oh, sure, athletic leaders will try to be careful for a while ... until the first kickoff.

Nebraska still is adding seats to a monster stadium. USC is back stronger than ever after two-year sanctions. Missouri and Texas A&M have taken a huge step into the SEC, where the jesting credo is: "If you're not cheating, you're not trying." Coaches are increasingly overpaid and increasingly fired when they don't produce.

Emmert responded to the outcry, but if he thinks hammering Penn State will change the culture in Alabama, he is hallucinating.

Loren Tate writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at ltate@news-gazette.com.

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westcoast wrote on July 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

Waiting for Moonpie and others to personally insult Tate . . . 3  . . .2. . . .1

peterborich wrote on July 27, 2012 at 2:07 am

I will do it for Moonpie... Just another anti-Beckman article.   Tate still hasn't gotten over Guenther boy Zook being fired... And never will over Coach Weber's firing.

Please note that the Great Tate is a raging hypocrit in the span of one column.  He castigates the NCAA for punishing Penn State and athletes who have done no wrong, but then pans coaches, like Beckman, who want to help remove said innocent victims from said unfair punishment.  And you wonder his columns are objectionable?

Brownshoe wrote on July 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

Virtually the whole media has questioned, to a lesser or greater degree, whether or not the NCAA should have taken any jurisdiction in the Penn State matter. Well, virtually the whole media is either uninformed of the NCAA bylaws, or simply wants to make an issue where none should exist (actually, both probably apply: they are both uninformed and trouble makers.)

Section 19.01.2 of the NCAA bylaws was broken by many at Penn State and the NCAA had no alternative but to take action, it reads:

"individuals employed by or associated with member institutions for the administration, the conduct or the coaching of intercollegiate athletics are, in the final analysis, teachers of young people. Their responsibility is an affirmative one, and they must do more than avoid improper conduct or questionable acts. Their own moral values must be so certain and positive that those younger and more pliable will be influenced by a fine example. Much more is expected of them than of the less critically placed citizen."

For the NCAA not to have acted would have made a joke out of this bylaw, yet the media acts like they have a valid point in questioning their jurisdiction. The media really sucks.

Frankly, I would have been happy to have seen them kick Penn State out of the NCAA - and I'm an avid sports fan. To have sympathy for Penn State is to me unimaginable. I can't believe that so many sports commentators question the severity of these penalties; either they have no moral compass or simply want to write something contentious, or, again, probably both. I can't imagine their tune had one of the victims been their son or grandson.

Illinigrad wrote on July 27, 2012 at 12:07 am

The difference is that Alabama, USC, and any other school you name did not allow a deranged coach to molest children.  PSU deserves all the penalties is received and actually got off easy. The conference should have denied any Big 10 network money for the next four years. The school also should have had a one year death penalty of not playing FB.

PortlandIllini wrote on July 27, 2012 at 1:07 am

 In this matter, I am totally "pro-choice".   Many sports writers have made the comment that "the NCAA should not be punishing the current athletes for the criminal actions of others" .  One way to avoid punishing the current athletes is to give them the choice to relocate to another school without restriction.    This mean that the athletes and the prospective school need to come to a mutual understanding about the athlete's goals and how they fit at a new school.    Let the athlete themselves decide whether they want to play at Penn State with no hope of going to a bowl game  or to relocate to another school that does.   Coach Beckman is not doing any thing wrong or unethical.  In fact, he is providing the athlete a option so they choose to not punished for the sins of the PSU administration.

peterborich wrote on July 27, 2012 at 1:07 am

Yes Loren... You are in the minority...and dead wrong.  If anything, Penn State football should not have been allowed to exist for the next four years.  That would have helped greatly to cure the "football first" mentality at PSU that led to the continued victimization of innocents over a decade.   A horrific lack of institutional control should be met by a slap on the wrist?  Hardly.  As for Beckman recruiting Penn State players, go for it.  The crap has already started from the new head coach at State College by telling his current players that there are "many more reasons to stay at Penn State than to leave."  What? Seriously?   Coach O'Brien and Loren Tate, "Who ya crappin?"



JimOATSfan wrote on July 27, 2012 at 2:07 am

Much like the finance system, where rules are made, broken profitably and only occasionally called out for not legal operations, the guilty pay only a "hefty" financial fine. No criminal action for those invloved and they go back to running the firms, mostly in some version of the same way. Business as usual. (Only a small percentage even get prosecuted).

AT PSU, the abusing coach did get criminal action, but PSU only gets a "hefty" fine. I haven't had the time to research whether the 60M comes out of PSU's own pockets, or simply amounts to the loss 4 bowl season proceedings.  No one above the 2 coaches gets criminal action. Jo Pa did not get criminal action.


Exciting new coach, 2 great recruiting classes with a third on the way ... come September they will line them up and PSU is playing football again.  The pagentry of PSU football marches on.  Full house crowds roar, the band plays and the sun shines. Doesn't seem like PSU is hurting at all, nor set back at all.

Remember the Illini get one accustation about mens BB recruitng (which turned out to be complete lies) and the program is set back for long , long years.


The NCAA should teach PSU a true lesson by turning off the lights at beaver stadium, stop football for 11 ( yes eleven whole squirrly seasons), and then let them play in year 12.  Personally, shutdown forever seems appropriate for what happened to the young men.


Within the last 3 years I chatted briefly with a PSU alum (school plate and almost PSU blue SUV) just waiting for his wife to return from the garden center.  I opioned that PSU should just name Larry Johnson as Co-Head Coach and move forward with JoPa and Larry giving recruits a higher level of comfort that one of the 2 guys will be around PSU all 4 years if they commit. (PSU was in a recruiting slump for a bit, allegedly because of JoPa's age.)   This big, big dude who looked like an ex-lineman responded:

"JoPa would never allow it.  Everbody thinks he is a grandfatherly type but really he is very mean."  My jaw dropped, fooled by media image like most I suppose. He nodded and said, "it would never happen, JoPa told the administration how things were going to run. No one made more money at PSU then JoPa." 

So melt down the statues, sell the proceeds and donate to correct charity.  Some wins left? Why? Who knows what has occured at PSU under JoPas nose prior to the last 11 years. After all, a winning program is critical.   Void them all away.

If winning football games requires the actions revealed of those involved at PSU, the NCAA should say ... bye bye PSU football.  You have embrassed collegiate football.

blmillini wrote on July 27, 2012 at 2:07 am

The severity of the punishment was critical to sending a message to Penn State and all other NCAA athletic institutions that it is not acceptable to allow such things to happen.  If nothing else it forces the educational institution to take a more active role in policing their athletic departments.  If you don't think that is true, I think you are missing the boat.  This action is certainly not going to prevent the USC's of the world from shady recruiting practices but will most certainly make leaders of institutions take appropriate actions in the future to prevent more serious issues, like this one.  If you don't take the actions taken by the NCAA it sends the message that the school simply needs to fire those that were caught in order to continue a program.  The NCAA has provided a mechanism for the players to escape punishment by leaving and frankly, anyone else is simply part of the culture that contributed to the problem and deserves the punishment.

OKOMIS wrote on July 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

I guess it boils down to who you feel worse for?? A kid, a young man who did nothing wrong and only wants to compete in the B1G and have a shot at a bowel… or an institution and legacy that allowed, for years, a monster to use their facility and the influence of the institution to lure children to rape. I’m not only not uncomfortable with Beckman listening to a kid reaching out to him… I’m proud of him for putting the interest of the kid ahead of a horrid institution…

Floridaguy wrote on July 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

The  zealots always jump on the punishment bandwagon once it gets rolling.  Loren, per usual, is on the money when he discusses the variety of opinion regarding Penn State punishment.  It is a valid argument that the protracted punishment received by Penn State may end up being nothing but vindictive in its effects on the future innocent at Penn State.  Just men (and women) will debate the question of whether these penalties are too harsh or too light until hell freezes over.

illiniart wrote on July 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

It is a fact that the university and the people who deserved harsh penalties are found guilty and will deservedly pay a huge price.  Of course, the players and coaches are going to be under great stress unless they leave PSU....and maybe they should.  PSU football will be in the tank for a long time and rightfully so.

However, I would ask, for those of you who want the football program shut down, what would the affect be on a ton of people who had no idea what was going on and will lose their jobs?

I heard the AD at U of M suggest months ago that there will never by another "death penalty".  Too many innocent people in the community are hurt with such a draconian penalty.

jwharmon wrote on July 27, 2012 at 11:07 am

The one thing I think is ridiculous is that the NCAA can actually fine an academic institution like they did. They have no busienss controlling a universty's funds. I don't care where it goes. I would have had much more respect for the NCAA if they had given PSU the death penalty for a few years.


BGill100 wrote on July 27, 2012 at 11:07 am

How will we feel when PSU shows up for the first Big Ten game of the season?

Gee, how did you feel when PSU waited until after they defeated Illinois for Paterno's 407th, record setting, win to send the police out for Jerry Sandusky? They knew the roof would cave in as soon as the Sandusky situation became public. But they wanted the record for their coach.

And they're going to question our morals?

Every football player on that PSU roster should FLEE as fast as they possibly can. They have been lied to by a coaching staff and an administration, and thousands of alums continue to profess that none of this is a big deal. The new coach can be as indignant as he wants. It doesn't change the underlying situation. Everything in Happy Valley these days STINKS.

nick wrote on July 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Penn State should follow an honorable course and suspend football for at least a year.The institution would show they are serious about controlling their football division by stopping or suspending play for a season.It would respect the victims.It would give PSU an opportunity to plan for the future and institute serious measures of control over football at the university.It might even give PSU fans a chance to reflect about the abuses of football at Penn State. I've read hundreds of comments by Penn State fans at many different sites and forums.I've read the Penn State fan forums. They are appalling. There is very little acceptance that a problem exists except in an isolated bubble surrounding Sandusky. If the NCAA believed that the consequences assigned to Penn State would inspire reflection,remorse,or a desire to seek a solution to an out of control football culture,it seems that the NCAA miscalculated. Even the coach at PSU has proclaimed that every Saturday will be a bowl game.Maybe Penn State should consider cancelling the Saturday parties,entertainment,tailgates and carnival atmosphere and show respect to the victims and their families,not to mention the damage they have done to the image of all of college sports.PSU appears to me to be the same arrogant institution that it has always been regarding football.They also seem to be the same dishonest and manipulative organization that brought this egregious set of crimes to national attention.I don't have much hope that we will see any change in the attutude regarding football at Penn State.We should all be disgusted with the Penn State reaction and those people who choose to support and defend them.

Moonpie wrote on July 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Thanks, peterborich. So, Obi Wan Tate is uneasy about recruiting Penn State players? How funny. Apparently Obi Wan still believes college football is purely a sport and not a business. It would be nice if Obi Wan was as uneasy about players who pretend to be students and how sometimes a progran helps them pretend.

I am curious to know if you are right--that this is anti-Beckman. I'm not sure yet how Obi Wan feels about Beckman. I like Beckman so far. But I'm sure Obi Wan had a candidate he prefered for the job and no doubt felt that should have been the choice because after all Obi Wan is a legend and the fans are traitorous and unruly and don't always fall into lockstep behind him and accept his word as gospel.

If they can get some players from Penn State, they should. Penn State would do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.

After all, in college sports it's all about winning and not ethics. If it was about ethics, the modern university, to paraphrase Shaw, I believe it was, would not be a few classrooms attached to a football stadium.

jturner wrote on July 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm

While sending 7 or 8 coaches to PSU may be legal, to me it is unseemly. If somebody calls, fine, but conduct your business discretely. The show of force was rediculous.  Saying they weren't on campus is bogus. So they were at the equivalent of being at the Hilton across Neil street.  It bothers me when Wisconsin looks like they have more class than us. There may be no rules, but there is the golden rule.  If our program were under stress and had vultures circling around it, we would consider those folks classless, low-lifes and outraged comments would be being posted.  I highlty suspect that Obrien will never hold Beckman in high regard and many PSU fans will remember forever just like we remember Iowa re Deon Thomas.  PSU is hurting for sure, but they won't be forever and the next time they're ahead of us by 50 at the half, they won't back off.

Moonpie wrote on July 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm

jturner--the next time they are up by 50 is going to be quite a while.

If a kid wants to leave Penn State, what's wrong with helping? Major college football is a business, unfortunatley. Beckman is just approaching it like the business it is.

There's no win one for the Gipper anymore.

Spfldillini wrote on July 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Officials at Penn State knew and allowed a child sexual predator to conduct illegal activities on campus using athletic facilities over more than a ten year period. It is likely that there were many more victims than those who were identified or came forward. State and possibly federal laws were violated. In this situation such offenses amounted to organizational poison. It is a toxin which will continue to consume the university for years. When these people could have taken action and did not, their careers, professional integrety and the organization became vulnerable to any and all consequences. It is clear the NCAA intended to punish the school and set an example for member universities to observe and become acutely aware of the relationship between athletics and academics. This is one reason why punishment exists. There appeared to be no mitgating circumtsances. Current Penn State officials were in no position to negotiate a "more fair" consequence. Neither did the children Mr. Sandusky violated. . . 

nick wrote on July 27, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I think it is quite unfortunate that Loren Tate wrote the careless reference to Mr.Emmert as person who is hallucinating. Mr. Tate reveals much about his priorities and values in this article.Mr.Emmert took a position on the side of justice.Mr.Tate may certainly disagree but please don't show such derision and disrespect to Mark Emmert by writing,''he is hallucinating''. Penn State,as a culture and a community,is the entity that has lost it's sense of reality not the NCAA.

edgyinchina wrote on July 27, 2012 at 11:07 pm

I thought that the second half of Mr. Tate's article contradicts the first half....

If, as pointed out in the section entitled: How Long Will the Tough Act Last, that USC and others have rebounded so quickly after their sanctions, why should I feel that PSU would be any different? How could any penalty (except the death penalty) have any effect on big time football programs at all?

USC recovered quickly (as Tate points out), and has come back twice as strong, so why shouldn't Penn St.? What in this penalty makes me believe that the folks at State College won't return to 'business as usual' as quickly as they can? I say it won't take 10 years... I say it won't take 3 years, and they will be back in business.... As Mr. Tate says in the first part of his article, that train left the station a long time ago.....

Respectfully submitted,


nick wrote on July 28, 2012 at 9:07 pm

edgyinchina....I agree with you.I believe you are completely correct. Penn State will have so much money and so many connections working to protect the PSU football complex that they will be ''back in business'' very soon.The media support for them is building,fans and supporters will accept any action that they take,and no one at that university has the courage to stand in front of that tank.I will add to your prediction by suggesting that this issue will be turned around in the future.Expect to read newspaper columns saluting the courage and loyalty of the Penn State players and coaches.Expect a sports movie that depicts the Nittany Lions struggle against adversity and the injustices hurled at innocent ''student athletes'' who just wanted to play for the ''love of the game''.This disgusting mess is just getting started.Expect every cliche you have ever heard used as apologists for the myth explain to us the ''real'' meaning of the Penn State story. Penn State will do anything to hold on to a place in the top tier of the college football industry.