Even Freeh Group member realizes NCAA wrongly punished Penn St.

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Gotham City (wrongly) believed in Harvey Dent.

Likewise, there are people who (wrongly) believed in NCAA president Mark Emmert.

The heavy sanctions levied by Emmert against Penn State in the aftermath of the Freeh report was a result of public pressure, the justification to satisfy our culture’s bloodlust and demand for instant gratification. Someone needed to get clobbered at Penn State; it didn’t matter who.

The report, a multi-million dollar project spanning eight months investigating Penn State’s (in)action into the Jerry Sandusky allegations, was designed to unearth exactly when and where university officials went wrong, as well as act as a recommendation for new university policy to prevent further malfeasance.

Instead, it became the basis for Emmert’s unprecedented ultimatum to interim PSU president Rodney Erickson: accept a $60 million fine, four-year postseason ban, scholarship reduction and five-year probation — not to mention vacated 111 vacated wins — or get the Death penalty. The whole process bypassed traditional NCAA investigative protocol so fast, it had SEC speed.

In this case, that was too fast. And that’s not just, like, my opinion, man. A member of the Freeh Group told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Emmert misused the Freeh report as a substitute for normal NCAA investigative steps. Below are just some of the quotes to the Chronicle:

  • “That document was not meant to be used as the sole piece, or the large piece, of the NCAA’s decision-making… It was meant to be a mechanism to help Penn State move forward. To be used otherwise creates an obstacle to the institution changing.”
  • The Freeh team reviewed how Penn State operated, not how they worked within the NCAA’s system… The NCAA’s job is to investigate whether Penn State broke its rules and whether it gained a competitive advantage in doing so.”
  • “The NCAA took this report and ran with it without further exploration.” 

Evidence of the NCAA’s rush to judgement is already tangible. While some coaches are claiming to take the high road of not actively recruiting Penn State players now free to transfer wherever they choose, others are much more open about it. Tennessee, USC, Illinois, Arizona and Kansas are among them.

That’s not a slight against any program pursuing a transfer — they’re doing exactly what they’re allowed to do — but in punishing Penn State officials’ criminal acts with athletic sanctions, the NCAA didn’t reprimanded the “football-first” culture in Happy Valley.

It pushed it elsewhere.

Would that have been avoided if the NCAA had gone through its traditional routine with a Notice of Inquiry, Notice of Allegations and Committee on Infractions hearing? Maybe not. The NCAA can only punish a program in so many ways because it lacks subpoena power. But at least there would have been another review, one the NCAA can directly point to as its own work rather than rely on another’s.

I’ve never been a fan of NCAA involvement with Penn State in this context, but I also realize it’s the governing body of over 300 Division 1 athletic departments. Something was inevitably going to be done.

Besides, the Sandusky story is one filled with missed opportunities and baffling dead ends to investigations that should have gone further. In an ironic twist, though, the NCAA dealt with a program that improperly shifted power to one individual by inflicting punishment in a similar fashion.

Now, anything’s possible with the NCAA outside its normal authority.

Believe it.

Starting Utah corner Casey Hughes transfers to Michigan

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Less than two weeks after leaving the Pac-12, Casey Hughes has landed in the Big Ten.

Jan. 10, Hughes announced on Twitter that he had decided to transfer from Utah.  Over the weekend, the defensive back confirmed that he will be transferring into the Michigan football program.

Hughes joins Jim Harbaugh‘s squad as a graduate transfer, which will allow him to use his final season of eligibility with the Wolverines this year.

Hughes started 11 games in 2017 for the Utes, missing two others because of injury.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2014, the North Las Vegas native played in 18 the next two seasons.  He didn’t start any of those contests.

Missouri new home for former LSU QB Lindsey Scott

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After a brief sabbatical, Lindsey Scott is back in the SEC.

Scott confirmed on his personal Twitter account Monday evening that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Missouri. Per his social media missive, the quarterback opted for Mizzou over FBS programs like Kansas and UT-San Antonio.

A three-star member of the LSU’s 2016 recruiting class, Scott was rated as the No. 26 dual-threat quarterback in the country and No. 54 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  He took a redshirt his true freshman season.

In August of last year, Scott decided to transfer from the Tigers.  He spent the 2017 season at Last Chance U, otherwise known as East Mississippi Community College.

Former Iowa State lineman Keenan Forbes signs with Wazzu

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After a brief junior-college pit stop, Keenan Forbes is back at a Power Five program.

Washington State confirmed over the weekend that Forbes has been added to the football program’s 2018 signing class.  The offensive lineman has already enrolled in classes at the university and is expected to take part in spring practice in a couple of months.

Counting 2018, Forbes will have three seasons of eligibility at his disposal.

A three-star member of Iowa State’s 2016 recruiting class, the Florida high schooler chose ISU over his other finalist, Temple.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Forbes opted to transfer from the Cyclones.

Forbes spent the 2017 season at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.

Ryan Day expected to turn down NFL wooing, stay at Ohio State

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It appears Urban Meyer‘s coaching staff at Ohio State will (for now) remain intact after all.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Ryan Day was considering leaving his job as Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach to join former OSU assistant and newly-minted NFL head coach Mike Vrabel as the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans.  A day later, one report has Day eschewing the NFL opportunity and remaining with Meyer and the Buckeyes.

Day just completed his first season with the Buckeyes, serving as both co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  He has been a solo coordinator twice in his coaching career — at Temple in 2012 and then in 2013-14 at Boston College.

Prior to coming to OSU, Day was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and spent the 2015 season in the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Those were his first two stints at the NFL level.

Given that OSU will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2018, keeping Day on the staff is a significant win for Meyer’s program.