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State Of The Game - The Death Penalty
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CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 21, 2011


Fixing the scandals, Cam Newton, the Longhorn Network, and more. Along with the CFNers, check out the opinions on key topics going into the season from Matt Hayes from the Sporting News and the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein.

State of the Game   

Can there be a Death Penalty?



2011 CFN State of the Game Topics  
- Should The Death Penalty Be On The Table? 
- What One Thing Can Stop The Cheating? | Bloggers Analysis
- How To Fix The NCAA | Bloggers Analysis
- Is There Institutional Control? | Bloggers Analysis
- The Cam Newton Situation | Bloggers Analysis
Was Stanley McClover Telling The Truth? | Bloggers Analysis
Should Players Get a Bigger Stipend? | Bloggers Analysis
- Should a one-loss SEC team play for it all? | Bloggers Analysis
- Why isn't there a playoff? | Bloggers Analysis
- The Programs About To Blow Up | Bloggers Analysis
- Does The Longhorn Network Matter? | Bloggers Analysis
- What'll Happen In Ten Years? | Bloggers Analysis
- When Should Players Turn Pro? | Bloggers Analysis
- What's Your Beef? The Biggest Complaints | Bloggers Analysis

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After NCAA president Mark Emmert suggested that the death penalty is on the table as a possible punishment, the CFNers are asked whether or not this can and should be in the discussion.

E-mail E-mail Pete Fiutak
Follow us ... http://twitter.com/ColFootballNews

The death penalty is on the table? It's already being served up hot at USC.

Here's the thing that the NCAA and others don't seem to understand; by nailing USC with the scholarship reductions, bowl bans, and barring it from winning the conference title, that is the death penalty. The Trojan program might not be totally dark, but it's not feeling well.

For places like USC, and Ohio State, and Alabama, and Oklahoma, and a few select other programs, it's win the national title or nothing, and while the coma penalty was applied to the Trojans, it might as well have been a three year lethal injection. (I know, that's not technically possible, but you get it.)

The superstar programs are the equivalent of the scratch golfer whose day is ruined with a 77 on the board. It might be the goal for most to be that good, but anything less than perfection ruins the fun, while for the average golfer, coming up with an 84 might be the summer-maker and the game might be more enjoyable overall. Apply sanctions to a mid-range team, and life goes on as normal, but maybe without a bowl game. Apply major sanctions to an elite program, and that's a whole other world.

Don't believe me? Right now, if you asked the fans of roughly 110 of the 120 football programs if they'd take a one-loss regular season, a conference championship, and a win in any of the BCS bowls other than the title game, and they'd take the deal in a heartbeat. Offer the same thing to Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, or LSU fans right now, and they'd chose what's behind curtain No. 2. 

That's why suspending Cam Newton for the Alabama game, the SEC Championship and the bowl would've been the equivalent of the mini-death penalty for Auburn. Ohio State, after years of frustration against the SEC, would've had a near-death experience if it didn't have Terrelle Pryor and the Tattoo Five in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. That's why Ohio State, who goes into mourning after a close win much less a loss, would be in a vegetative state if it gets hamstrung in any way. That's why USC and Texas went into the tank late last year; when you're conditioned, groomed, and recruited with a single-minded purpose to shoot for the national title, hoping for a decent season is a death of a campaign.

For all the talk from former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr about the goal being to win the Big Ten title, and for all the rhetoric from Pete Carroll about how USC wanted to win the Pac-10 and go to the Rose Bowl every year, no one believed it. Wolverine fans were consistently mad at Carr for not being in the national title chase more often after 1998, and Trojan fans went ballistic when their team was the odd one out in the national title mix.

Oh sure, it still might be fun to go to a USC game this year, but ask the die-hard fans what it's like to watch Oregon play for the national title. Ask what it was like in 2003.

And that's the bigger overall problem. If Emmert wants to put the nuclear option out there as a deterrent, that's one thing, but if he and the NCAA actually uses it, good luck dealing with the practical and business parts of the equation the next time a major program does something wrong.

Force Miami to shut down the football program for two years, and what happens when, not if, some top-shelf SEC program gets nailed for major violations down the road? ESPN might have something to say about the matter if a mega-power was caught with problems as bad or worse as the Miami's, and good luck trying to negotiate the next TV deal without a clause about kicking back a ton of big dough if a top program is given the death blow. Worse yet, if Miami gets the ultimate punishment, heaven forbid if an even bigger program commits a slew of sins and doesn't face the same fate; the sport of college football as we know it would lose all integrity on the way to becoming the football version of WWF wrestling.

What happens if the NCAA applies the big penalty to Miami, and then proof turns up that most of the allegations against Ohio State really are true? The NCAA would then have to give Ohio State - Ohio State - the death penalty?! 

Not ... a ... chance.

So okay, President Emmert, if you and your lickspittles want to use the death penalty, go for it. I triple dog dare you. Just remember, though, the second you apply the injection once, understand that you're going to have to do it again, and again, and again, until finally, the big schools are going to apply a death blow of their own and will bail on the whole idea of being under the NCAA's jurisdiction.

Not ... a ... chance.

So forget about a death penalty that won't be applied. More importantly, at least in the real world, how will the bigger programs deal with the punishment?

By Richard Cirminiello

Desperate times, meet desperate measures.

The NCAA is about to reach a tipping point with regard to off-field problems. Okay, so the sport is ultra-safe and on very solid footing, but you’re naïve if you fail to recognize that the recent spate of infractions has turned off a swath of fans. College football was never pure, but with Miami now the latest school to go under the bright lights of the governing body, something needs to be done in order to slow down the insanity. The NCAA has two distinct choices. It can either soften its rulebook, which history says is extremely doubtful, or it can bring down the hammer. The latter is a far more likely scenario.

Now, I’d like to see the measure used very judiciously, and not be abused, but the Death Penalty should be exercised if a program shows a repeated pattern of flouting the laws of the game. Will it be a deterrent? Possibly. Slaps on the wrist, however, are never going to be a solution. Throw the book at the most blatant offenders, and maybe the rest of the country, including the fans, will sit up and take notice.

By Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

The death penalty is a tricky issue for me. No matter what the NCAA says, I don't think it wants to be in the business of putting teams out of business. The long-term impact of the death penalty on SMU was something that I don't think the NCAA was prepared for. Not only did it take two decades for the football team to recover from it, but the school and the local economy struggled to recover from it as well. So from that perspective, I don't think that the NCAA really wants to issue the death penalty again.

But, at some point, you'd think that the NCAA would have to give some program the death penalty in order to maintain the threat of it. I don't think teams are cheating more today than they have in years past, but it certainly seems to be more visible thanks to the immediacy of the Internet and social media. Since it's becoming more visible, the NCAA is going to have to put it in play at some point just to keep things in line.

The last time it was even really mentioned was during the Albert Means case, when NCAA representatives said that Alabama was "staring down the barrel of a gun." If it's not at least considered in the case of Miami (of course, that's assuming that everything in the Yahoo! Sports report is true), then I don't think it's an option anymore, and that will give teams more reason to cheat. The NCAA doesn't want that.

Gut feeling, I don't think the death penalty is an option anymore. But I think that everyone in the NCAA will act as if it is during the process of this Miami fiasco in order to maintain the threat of it in future cases.

By Matt Zemek

If a program completely flings itself into the arms of excess, debauchery, and other wicked mistresses, of course the death penalty should be on the table.

When a school president (Donna Shalala) and athletic director (Paul Dee), along with all the people working under them in an athletic department’s substructure, allow a narcissistic rainmaker (Nevin Shapiro) to run wild – so wild that college athletes were hooked up with prostitutes, leading to an abortion in one instance – a strong penalty is certainly warranted, to say the very least. The fact that 72 players fell into Shapiro’s orbit in one way or another is reflective of a scandal so wide-ranging that it infected the entire football program, plus former basketball coach Frank Haith. Even if “only” 15 or 20 athletes were involved in Shapiro’s web of profligacy, that would deserve a substantial punishment. The number 72 is what should make this a no-brainer. Odious offenses multiplied by 72?

 Why are we having this debate?

Here’s the other point, though: If schools are going to be given the death penalty, what is the metric? Does anybody know? Can the NCAA establish a clear set of standards that can be universally recognized and applied? Most important of all is this question: Can the NCAA ever enter a given situation with the credibility, the reputation for impartiality, and the track record of consistent fairness that these kinds of situations require? You know the answer to that question.

The man who allowed Shapiro to do his thing – Paul Dee – is the same man who was given enforcement power by the NCAA and, when in his position of authority, sent USC to the gallows for the wrongdoings of one football player (Reggie Bush). USC – as a program – was and is much like Miami in that it is located in a flashy and temptation-rich city in which hangers-on, agents, and other vultures flock to the sides of hotshot football players, creating a culture of instant access to all sorts of worldly pleasures.

After all, Dwayne Jarrett also got his hands dirty at USC, and it is clear that Pete Carroll lost control of an operation in which he invited celebrities to team gatherings.

However, for all of Carroll’s mistakes, this is where the discussion regarding USC and Miami – and by extension, the NCAA’s credibility as a deliverer of punishment – turns. For all of USC’s on-field glories during the Carroll years and the temptations that flow from runaway success, the Trojans didn’t leave behind a trail of substantial wreckage. USC did have an athletic director who didn’t give a damn (Mike Garrett), and in that key sense, the program was no better than Dee’s Miami. However, when one also realizes that Miami football experienced steadily declining football fortunes over the past decade, a counterintuitive epiphany emerges: If a program should have been particularly vulnerable to a Shapiro-style situation from 2003 through 2008, it was USC and not Miami. Yet, USC’s program got hammered by the man who allowed exponentially more egregious and alarming violations (and social evils, such as prostitution and an abortion) to occur at … Miami.

Moreover, USC’s two-year bowl ban and other Dee-decreed sanctions did not get overturned on appeal. Further still, as Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com noted in a recent column, three of the last six Committee On Infractions (COI) chairmen were “allowed to operate within the system despite having their records stained by wrongdoing… a fourth (COI chair), attorney Gene Marsh, a veteran of more than 100 infractions hearings, now represents NCAA miscreants” such as Jim Tressel of Ohio State.

So, Miami should get the death penalty if all the allegations are true. That’s not the hard part. What’s difficult in this discussion is to offer a system of investigation, judgment, appellate procedure, and bylaw-based clarity that can deliver consistently fair results that all schools will happily accept. Until that system is created – it’s not the one we have now – any attempt to give the death penalty to one program will make the college sports community wonder if other programs should receive the same punishment. Clear metrics, universal standards, and a fair process must all be developed first. Then college athletics, writ large, can be much more secure and confident in handing down various penalties.

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter @russmitchellcfb

Emmert discusses the death penalty specifically for the ears of an angry populous. But as with much of what Emmert says, it's mostly Kabuki theater.

Miami's not getting the death penalty.

It's been 23 years since the private school football powerhouse SMU got it, and it has yet to recover.

If you thought football was big money back in 1988... The ACC will be financially wounded w/o the Miami "brand", and no one from Florida to Massachusetts will be happy with that.

Remember, the Southwest conference had been in existence since 1914, but when its member schools started getting rung up for cheating infractions, and were placed on probation, its TV market share began to slide. (In those days, you couldn't be on television if you were under probation.) The SMU penalty was the death knell for the SWC. It disbanded six years later.

Lesson: don't mess with the Holy Grail (TV $$$$).

The U may not be at it's peak, but it's a banner program less than a decade removed from two national championship games, and one which sports several national championship trophies. Moreover, as it has no doubt been discussed by my colleagues above, SMU was warned on several occasions to clean its house, and was either unable or unwilling to do so. That has not been the case with Miami.

The irony is that the populous is angry thanks exactly to the inadequacies of the very institution to which it turns to maintain fair play. The NCAA as a body continues to fail college football in terms of policing its members. One could argue that's by design. Remember, the real power resides at the edges with the universities - not with the NCAA that is entrusted to regulate them.

It should be clear to everyone reading this that the member universities would rather simply look the other way and cash their fat checks. However, those checks are now so big that cheating can drive tens if millions of dollars; maybe more. Suddenly, it's reached a point that member schools may in fact care that others are getting a leg up. Maybe they'll think the time has come to reform the NCAA.

Right.


2011 CFN State of the Game Topics  
- Should The Death Penalty Be On The Table? 
- What One Thing Can Stop The Cheating? | Bloggers Analysis
- How To Fix The NCAA | Bloggers Analysis
- Is There Institutional Control? | Bloggers Analysis
- The Cam Newton Situation | Bloggers Analysis
Was Stanley McClover Telling The Truth? | Bloggers Analysis
Should Players Get a Bigger Stipend? | Bloggers Analysis
- Should a one-loss SEC team play for it all? | Bloggers Analysis
- Why isn't there a playoff? | Bloggers Analysis
- The Programs About To Blow Up | Bloggers Analysis
- Does The Longhorn Network Matter? | Bloggers Analysis
- What'll Happen In Ten Years? | Bloggers Analysis
- When Should Players Turn Pro? | Bloggers Analysis
- What's Your Beef? The Biggest Complaints | Bloggers Analysis

LIMITED TIME ONLY: CLICK HERE for a Free Week of Top-Rated Selections

- Suggestions or something we missed? Let us know
- Follow us ... http://twitter.com/ColFootballNews