While many in the Nittany Nation celebrate the possibility of a bowl appearance in December or January and the end of scholarship restrictions next year, there is one glaring sanction that remains on the table.
What about the wins?
In a town where “409” appears on tailgates, T-shirts and business signs, there are those who think the scholarships regained last year were great. The bowls this time are awesome. More scholarships next year are even better, but all of that just moves the chains on what the real touchdown would be: the restoration of the 111 wins vacated by the NCAA in the epic smackdown of Penn State after Jerry Sandusky’s conviction on charges of child sex abuse.
For state Sen. Jake Corman, it is very much something he would like to see happen.
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“It’s a goal to get them back,” he said.
The NCAA took away those wins, from games between 1998 and 2011, an indictment of Penn State leadership during the years between the first suggestions that Sandusky was involved in something untoward with the children from his Second Mile charity and the time of his arrest.
They also coincide with the end of Sandusky’s tenure on the coaching staff and the end of Joe Paterno’s coaching career, when he was fired within days of Sandusky’s arrest.
For years, there have been those who said the punishment didn’t hurt the perpetrators but damaged the history of student-athletes who had nothing to do with Sandusky’s crimes and tarnished the legend of Paterno, a man many still revere for his contributions to the university — in and out of Beaver Stadium. Now, with plans to parole Penn State of some of the penalties, it leaves people free to focus on others.
“I think that’s something they should do as well,” Corman said. “I don’t see why the football players should be picked out to receive punishment.”
That sentiment is nothing new. Penn State trustee and former Nittany Lion Adam Taliaferro, who was severely injured in 2000 against Ohio State, has said before that the wins might have been taken away, but that the games were still played. He knows they were. That’s how he broke his neck.
Last week, Bobby Bowden called for the games to be restored just days before his son, Terry, led the University of Akron onto the field in new head coach James Franklin’s first home win in Happy Valley.
On social media, people are calling for the final change. A “Joe Out” is being planned for the Sept. 20 game against the University of Massachusetts. The irony of a game clock stopped with 4:09 to go in the fourth quarter on Saturday was noted with satisfaction by some and perhaps a suggestion of divine intervention by others.
Would the Paternos go quite that far? They did not openly reference the missing victories in the late coach’s record in their statement Monday, but the idea was there.
“This is one more step in correcting the unjust and irresponsible penalties imposed on the university,” Scott Paterno’s statement read. “We have always supported a full, fair and open review of the facts. We remain committed to that effort.”
Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship agreed.
“This is great news for the football team and the entire unfairly punished Penn State community. However, there are still wrongs to be righted,” the group said in a statement.