Penn State Nittany Lions

Report: Penn State nearly received the death penalty

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When news of the Penn State scandal involving former coach Jerry Sandusky broke, conversations raged over the possibility of the Nittany Lions football program potentially receiving the “death penalty” due to the severity of the allegations.

A Pennsylvania state court ordered the NCAA to turn over 477 emails which may or may not have influenced the findings of the Freeh Report that was conducted on Penn State University after the allegations initially arose. The findings of the Freeh Report eventually lead the NCAA to impose multi-year sanctions and vacated wins for the football program as well as a massive fine placed on the school.

NCAA decision-makers almost took it a step further by eliminating the football program for an undetermined amount of time.

Among those emails submitted by the NCAA, the Associated Press‘ Mark Scolforo reported “on July 17, 2012 — less than a week before the Penn State sanctions were announced — a majority on the NCAA executive committee favored the ‘death penalty’ that would shut down the football program for several years.”

The only college football program to famously receive the “death penalty” was the SMU Mustangs in 1987. Mustangs football returned two years later, but the repercussions of the action were felt for 20 years after originally receiving the penalty from the NCAA.

Unlike SMU, Penn State wasn’t considered a repeat offender. It was within that framework arguments were made that Penn State should continue the program.

“In a subsequent call we informed you that it was Penn State’s cooperation and transparency that encouraged members of the executive committee to forgo the pursuit of a stop in play,” NCAA attorney Donald Remy wrote in the email.

Former Pennsylvania governor says Joe Paterno ‘probably’ should have been suspended, not fired

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After spearheading the investigation into Penn State University during the Jerry Sandusky scandal, former Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett seemed to soften his stance on former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Corbett admitted Paterno “probably” should not have been fired and should have had an opportunity to finish out the 2011 season.

“They probably shouldn’t have fired him. They probably should have suspended him,” Corbett told the Inquirer. “He probably should have been given the last three games, not on the sideline.”

Paterno was fired with four games remaining in is last season at the helm of the Nittany Lions. The octogenarian died two months after a short battle with cancer.

The university has been working damage control ever since. The first step in the right direction to reclaim Paterno’s legacy came Sept. 11 when a judge ruled in favor of the Paterno family in a lawsuit against the NCAA.

More questions were raised Wednesday about how the NCAA handled the initial sanctions placed on Penn State. A series of emails were uncovered that questioned the NCAA’s legal ability to even place sanctions on the program. Due to the embarrassment the school suffered, it decided to accept the sanctions anyhow.

Corbett’s comments come just two days after this was revealed. Penn State supporters made sure to jump on the opportunity presented the former governor and his new stance.

“Revelations like this would have been meaningful three years ago, before the patently false narrative about Joe Paterno was cemented in minds across America,” said Maribeth Roman Schmidt, a member of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship. “We hope Tom Corbett will continue to share his regrets in an effort to restore the fine reputations of both Joe Paterno and Penn State University.”

Michigan’s 18-13 victory over Penn State sets Brady Hoke’s hot seat to simmer

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What a difference two weeks can make for the Michigan Wolverines. The further away head coach Brady Hoke and his Wolverines can get from the Shane Morris incident, the better the program will be.

Saturday’s performance showed there is no quit in these Wolverines despite a 2-4 start to the season and all the rumors of change within the program. The team, particularly quarterback Devin Gardner, rose to the occasion and secured a 18-13 victory Saturday against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Hoke and the program desperately needed a victory after three straight losses. The team’s ability to handle Penn State, which entered the game 4-1 overall, is Michigan’s first step to remaining competitive in the Big Ten Conference.

Gardner personified the program’s resiliency with his effort Saturday night.

The senior quarterback suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter, which could have prevented him from returning to the game. In fact, third-string quarterback Russell Bellomy entered the game for two unsuccessful series before Gardner decided to gut it out and finish the contest.

Other than an ill-advised screen pass that was intercepted, Gardner did everything necessary to will the Wolverines to the victory. The upperclassman became a vocal leader on the sidelines throughout the contest and kept his team in the game at all times, whether the offense was on the field or not.

Gardner finished the game 16-of-24 passing for 192 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback was also the team’s second-leading rusher with 18 yards despite being hobbled.

On defense, the Wolverines remained aggressive throughout the contest. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was uncomfortable all night long due to the pressure brought by Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Hackenberg — one of the nation’s most talented young quarterbacks — was never able to get into a rhythm, and Penn State’s offense continued to stall due to how heavily the offense relies on the sophomore signal-caller.

Michigan’s defense also held Penn State to only 54 yards rushing. Mattison’s aggressive approach allowed the Wolverines to consistently win at the line of scrimmage and, at times, proved to be completely overwhelming.

With the victory, Hoke’s hot seat will cool slightly for at least one week. The coach envisions a 3-4 Michigan squad that can still compete for a Big Ten championship. Michigan’s biggest test of the season will come next weekend, and it’s a perfect opportunity to prove itself. The Wolverines travel to East Lansing to face the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans. No game will be a truer indicator of where Michigan stands under Hoke’s supervision.

Devin Gardner contributes to both teams as Penn State leads Michigan 13-10

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Plenty of attention has been placed on Michigan’s quarterback position in recent weeks. Senior Devin Gardner is now entrenched as the Wolverines’ starting quarterback. The good and bad Gardner showed up against the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Michigan trails Penn State 13-10 at halftime, but Gardner was a big part of both team’s success.

The embattled signal-caller started the game by showing some accuracy and efficient play. The senior finished the half 11-of-13 passing. Gardner’s 43-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Devin Funchess was the game’s top highlight through two quarters.

However, one of Gardner’s two incomplete passes was actually an interception thrown directly to Penn State defensive lineman Anthony Zettel.

Four plays later, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg found wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton open in the end zone for the Nittany Lions’ only touchdown.

Hackenberg also pieced together a strong first-half performance. The sophomore signal-caller was 11-of-15 passing for 94 yards and the aforementioned touchdown pass. Hamilton, meanwhile, caught six passes for 61 yards.

As the teams prepare for the second half, Michigan needs to help Gardner by establishing a running game. The Wolverines only managed four yards on 11 carries. Gardner has previously shown he can’t be relied upon as the team’s only offensive threat. By running the football effectively, the Wolverines’ passing game will become even more potent with Funchess and Amara Darboh winning one-on-one battles on the outside.

Penn State, on the other hand, should make adjustments with their pass protection in an attempt to keep Hackenberg upright after Michigan’s defense hit the quarterback multiple times.

Judge rules in favor of Paterno family lawsuit against NCAA

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The lasting legacy of former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno morphed into an existing lawsuit his family levied against the NCAA.

In the lawsuit, the family asked “for a declaration that the plaintiffs have rights under the NCAA rules that were violated, and that the Consent Decree imposed by the NCAA is null and void.”

A judge ruled in the Paternos’ favor Thursday, according to WeAreCentralPA.com’s John Clay.

“A judge in Cook county ruled Thursday that the Paterno’s case will move forward and that the plaintiff’s will be granted full range of discovery which means that many key figures involved in the acceptance of the consent decree could be called to testify under oath for the first time,” Clay reported. “In his ruling today, the judge also allowed the Paterno family to move forward with claims of defamation.”

Even though the judge will allow the case to move forward, the NCAA decided Monday to waive the remaining sanctions still hovering over the Penn State football team.

“Due to Penn State University’s significant progress toward ensuring its athletics department functions with integrity, the NCAA Executive Committee today eliminated the school’s postseason ban, effective immediately, and will return the full complement of football scholarships in 2015-16,” a statement from the NCAA claimed.

In the end, the Paterno family was partially vindicated by the actions of the NCAA.