Monday, December 5, 2011

3 comments Tim Keown Thinks the Penn State Football Team Should Decline a Bowl Invitiation

Tim Keown believes Penn State should decline a bowl invitation. I disagree. He does his best to refute my point of view, but I think he ultimately fails. What I find to be so incredibly interesting is Keown goes on a rant in this article about the lack of a presumption of innocence and how Penn State isn't saying "allegedly" to describe the actions of Sandusky. Yet, Keown thinks despite his own pleas for the assumption of innocence, Penn State should decline a bowl invitation. So he wishes there was more of a presumption of innocence and then encourages Penn State to penalize their current players based on a presumption of guilt.

The questions will not go away, no matter how hard the people around the Penn State football program try to wish them away. They're going to be there through this season, into the offseason and through the summer. They're going to be there through Tom Bradley's interim reign, through a coaching search and well into the tenure of the next guy. A stench this strong doesn't disappear just by opening a couple of windows.

So let's get directly to the point:

One paragraph consisting of four sentences later, Tim Keown announces we are getting straight to the point. Maybe he doesn't understand what "directly to the point" means.

Penn State should step up and decline any invitation to a bowl game.

No, they should not. I don't believe Penn State should punish the current players for the actions of the Penn State coaches and leadership. (cue violins playing sad music) These players didn't do anything wrong except choose to believe Joe Paterno and his other coaches when they made all of their promises during the recruitment process. Why should the Penn State players be punished for actions they had nothing to do with? I realize Penn State should be punished in some fashion, but the current players shouldn't be punished for the actions of their leadership.

They should play Wisconsin on Saturday and, if they win, play in the Big Ten championship game, and then call it a season.

What would this prove exactly? Would not playing in a bowl game help the rest of the public forget about Sandusky's (alleged) actions with 40 children? Is not playing in a bowl game and giving the football team a chance to put Penn State in a positive light and the best way to show how serious Penn State is about cleaning up the program? I think the way to put Penn State in a positive light goes further than just declining a bowl bid. These problems Penn State has experienced over the past couple of weeks aren't "team" problems. They are leadership problems. I say don't punish the players for the actions of their leadership.

They should reverse their recent trend and do something that doesn't reek of self-interest.

I can see how the Penn State team going to a bowl game would be seen as looking out for the school's self-interest. To me, participating in a bowl game would say the current Penn State players aren't going to be punished for the actions of their leadership. It would also say the school won't punish the current players for actions they aren't responsible for taking.

We've heard Ken Frazier, who is leading the trustees' inquiry, talk tough, and seen the school hire former FBI director Louis Freeh to conduct an investigation to measure the depth of the corruption surrounding Jerry Sandusky's alleged activities.

It sure sounds like Penn State is serious about cleaning up the actions of Sandusky and company. Time will tell if this is true.

(It's worth noting that Freeh's résumé looks better from a distance. He was a blundering FBI director -- Richard Jewell, the intelligence failures leading up to 9/11, Wen Ho Lee -- but an FBI director nonetheless.)

I bet Penn State hired Freeh to oversee the investigation knowing he was incompetent and would screw the investigation up! Those Penn Staters are always up to shenanigans like this.

We've heard that Penn State will make the difficult decisions that will restore a sense of dignity to the administration and the football program.

So prove it. Walk away from a bowl game.

Again, while I can see some value in doing this, I also see value in not punishing the current Penn State football players by not allowing them to participate in a bowl game. Declining a bowl invitation this year would be more about punishing the current players and making a small statement rather than other actions down the road which will make a larger statement about the overall direction of the football program.

Walk away from something that would put money in your pocket. Make the tough choice.

Depending on the bowl game they make, Penn State could very well lose money in going to the bowl game. Many times these bowl games are for the athletes and not used as a way to line the pockets of the school.

The University of Miami became eligible for a bowl game with a win over South Florida on Saturday, and on Monday the school announced it would not accept a bowl invitation.

Tim Keown is unable to determine the difference in Miami announcing they would not accept a bowl invitation because of actions surrounding players in the football program, as opposed to Penn State not accepting a bowl bid based on the actions of the leadership in the Penn State program. I think there is a difference.

The Penn State situation is much different. Obviously, it's much worse.

The Penn State situation is also much worse because the allegations of impropriety around the program does not involve the players, who are young adults, but the allegations of impropriety at Penn State involve the adults running the program.

(By the way, is it possible to be repelled by Sandusky while still being a little troubled by the utter lack of presumption of innocence? This became cringingly apparent when the new president used his PSA to discuss "the victims" without even bothering to qualify it.

Here goes Keown on his "innocent until proven guilty" rant. Remember this is a guy who has spent this entire column saying Penn State should decline to participate in a bowl game based on the actions of those leading the program. Now he wants to act as if he is being open-minded and not wanting to indict the Penn State leaders and Sandusky for their alleged actions.

So we will keep a presumption of innocence for those accused, but punish the current Penn State players for these alleged actions before they were proven? Somehow I think this makes Keown's position even less defensible. Sandusky and company are getting the benefit of the doubt by using the word "allegedly," but Keown wants to go ahead and punish the school by not assuming the charges are "alleged" and suggesting Penn State should decline a bowl bid.

To that end, shouldn't people like the school president -- and Paterno, for that matter -- at least drop an "allegedly" into the conversation every so often?

And yet, again, while Tim Keown recognizes the "alleged" part of the allegations he doesn't care about the charges being alleged when doling out punishment to the Penn State football program. When it comes to the program and whether Penn State should accept a bowl bid, the charges are factual. When it comes to discussing Sandusky, the charges are alleged.

If Penn State goes to a bowl game, if it glad-hands the guys in the garish blazers and takes the gift bags and the check and the national attention, it'll be nothing short of an act of hypocrisy.

You mean hypocrisy like reminding people the Sandusky charges are alleged, but then suggesting a punishment for Sandusky's employer that acts as if the charges are factual? That's some good hypocrisy there. You can't have it both ways. You can't lay the gauntlet down on Penn State and then complain the charges are only alleged.

If that coaching staff -- filled with men who worked alongside Sandusky and sat near him as he brought preteen boys on road trips and into hotel rooms and to meals with the coaching staff, for God's sake -


There's a coherent argument to be made for banning football altogether at Penn State, at least temporarily,

It makes perfect sense in Tim Keown's world to ban football at Penn State temporarily based on alleged charges for Sandusky, because he is concerned Sandusky won't get a fair trial. I love how he plays both sides of this issue. Keown is like an attorney who wants to get his client a plea deal, while at the same time pleading innocent to all charges.

Even if the Sandusky allegations are true, which all indications is they are, I still don't see why the Penn State players should be punished for the transgressions of their coaching staff. I realize most of us want Penn State punished for what occurred. Unless the NCAA is willing to let Penn State players transfer to another school without having to wait a year, I simply don't believe it is fair to the Penn State players to pay for their leadership's transgressions by banning the Penn State team from playing football next year.

It came up when the idea of canceling the Nebraska game was raised, and even back when the quaint prospect of canceling the rest of the schedule was raised.

Canceling one game, declining a bowl bid and banning football altogether at Penn State are all completely separate issues with separate reasoning for why each should be done. I think the Nebraska game should have been canceled, but I think Penn State should accept a bowl bid.

And that argument is this:

The kids had nothing to do with it. You shouldn't punish the kids for the failures of adults.

That is my argument. Tim Keown does not refute it.

This isn't the Juice Box League, so can we stop turning college athletes into infants?

Wow. That's really all you have, Keown?

No one is turning the athletes into infants, simply recognizing these athletes worked hard all year to make a good bowl game and they shouldn't be denied this opportunity because Jerry Sandusky likes boys in a sexual way (ALLEGEDLY!) and there was a cover-up among the leadership about his (ALLEGED!) activities.

Let's say ESPN gets in trouble with the Bristol police because there is an alleged culture of sexual assault and mistreatment of women on campus. Would Tim Keown believe it is fair to him if ESPN says those executives responsible for the assault and mistreatment, or had knowledge of the behavior, are now fired and the network is going to take a 6 month break from covering sports in order to gain control of the organization. The catch is the current employees can't write columns during that time, but also aren't being let out of their contract and aren't getting paid. Do you believe Tim Keown thinks this would be fair? Probably not. He would wonder why he can't write and get paid. He would also wonder why he has to pay for transgressions he didn't commit.

When the issue is paying athletes, they're kids.

Weak. Paying athletes has nothing to do with the present discussion. Stop trying to confuse the issue because you can't refute a valid argument.

When the issue is trading memorabilia for tattoos, they're adults who should know better.

I know Tim Keown isn't stupid. So he has to see the difference in punishing an athlete for trading memorabilia for a tattoo (which is against the rules even though I disagree with this even being a rule) and punishing an athlete because 12 years ago the school employed a coach who liked to molest and rape underage boys (ALLEGEDLY!). For one, the Penn State football players have zero culpability in this situation. That's the biggest difference.

They can handle the repercussions. They can understand that men make mistakes -- sometimes huge mistakes -- that have ramifications on younger men.

Of course they can handle the repercussions. They shouldn't have to because they didn't commit the crime.

These "kids" have dealt with disappointment before. They've lost games they thought they should have won.

So now Tim Keown is equating the disappointment with losing a game they should have won with not playing in a bowl game because an ex-defensive coordinator (ALLEGEDLY!) committed a sexual crime against boys and the university helped cover it up. Sure, these are comparable situations.

They've played seasons that ended before they thought they should have ended, and they've cried because of it.

And please remember, Tim Keown wants to decline a bid to a bowl game based on Sandusky and the actions of the Penn State leadership despite the fact he wants to give Jerry Sandusky the presumption of innocence...which would also mean the Penn State leadership would also deserve a presumption of innocence.

The letdown came a few weeks ago, when they were forced to come to terms with the possibility that the people they trusted weren't worthy of that trust. After that, a bowl game is a minor disappointment.

So why should the players be punished for the fact the people they trusted weren't worthy of the trust?

And really, the whole thing is easy. When the bowl committee calls, whether it's Rose or Capitol One or Little Caesars, just say one word: Pass.

I think Penn State shouldn't decline a bowl game bid. If they want to cancel the program, the NCAA should allow the players to transfer without sitting out a year, but this year's team should be able to finish out the year.


rich said...

The difference between Miami giving up its bowl game and Penn State is that Penn State is ranked 21st and playing in the Ticketcity Bowl (I have no idea if that's a good bowl or not). Miami finished 6-6 and would have played in the "no one gives two shits" bowl.

Even before the season, Miami wasn't really expected to be good, so they weren't going to give up anything special.

And, this is the most important point you raised Ben, is that it wasn't the players who did anything wrong here. Everyone involved in this was on the coaching staff or a university admin.

Why not play the bowl game and give the money to charity? School still ends up with zero money, the players get to play for a good cause and a charity makes money.

As for the "innocent until proven guilty" thing. Tim's a retard. In an article where he's demanding the PSU team to not go to a bowl game, he's "shocked"?

In an article where he's saying it'll be nothing short of an act of hypocrisy. He's being the biggest hypocrite.

Even then, "innocent until proven guilty" only works in a court of law. People have been judging alleged criminals since time began. Are we all supposed to not form opinions until our slow, relatively incompetent judicial system says guilty or innocent? No, we read the evidence and form opinions. It's basic human nature.

However, this is the most mindblowing part for me: They can handle the repercussions. They can understand that men make mistakes -- sometimes huge mistakes -- that have ramifications on younger men.

Yes, this is true. Part of life is learning from mistakes and understanding the ramifications.

However, how the fuck are 18-22 year old kids supposed to understand the ramifications of a mistake that someone, who you probably haven't even met, made nine years ago?

The kids went to PSU to play football and now, because someone allegedly did something before they were even in HS, Tim wants to take that away from them?

And then to contrast this with When the issue is trading memorabilia for tattoos, they're adults who should know better. is incredible.

At OSU the players were told that it was wrong and the players broke those rules.

At PSU, the students knew molesting young children was illegal and they didn't molest young children.

In all seriousness, PSU deserves punishment, but the players deserve the chance to transfer considering that not a single one of them is involved in this.

rich said...

And one more thing:

The players who broke the rules at OSU were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl last year.

So player x breaks the rules - okay to play in bowl game.

player y doesn't break the rules, but a former coach does - no bowl game.


Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I think the most important part is that the players didn't do anything wrong. You want to punish the PSU team, but not these current PSU players for doing nothing wrong...other than trusting their coaches to make good decisions.

The charity idea is a good one. I doubt PSU would do it, but it would take most of Keown's positive points away.

Saying the team should be punished with no bowl appearance and then saying "innocent until proven guilty" is pure hypocrisy. You can't punish the team with a missed bowl for a crime that wasn't committed.

What irritates us is the same thing. The hypocrisy of Keown and the comparison to OSU. There's not really a comparison. There isn't even a comparison to Miami either. In both the OSU/Miami cases, the players were in the wrong. Here, the players weren't in the wrong at all. Yes, they can handle the consequences of actions, but why should they handle the consequences of actions they didn't take?

I would say let them play in a bowl and give the players a chance to transfer after this year and then punish PSU. Don't punish the players though.

"So player x breaks the rules - okay to play in bowl game.

player y doesn't break the rules, but a former coach does - no bowl game."

That seems to be what he is saying, isn't it?