*Note: Yes, this is an Eagles website. But the Penn State story is too big to ignore, and just as we use this site as a place for people to talk about the Eagles, let's use it as a place for us to discuss the biggest sports story in years*
If not now, then when?
If not after a football program knowingly allowed a child molester to use their facilities, then when?
If not after the President of the University decided it was more important to protect a football team than a child, then when?
And if not when a football coach was allowed to cover up and harbor a sex offender, then when?
If the NCAA ever intends to use the death penalty again on a program, that time is now. If Penn State really wants to show they have learned that the environment they allowed to be created- where football ruled all- is going to be changed, then they need to do the right thing.
Cancel the upcoming football season.
Canceling the football season is the only way Penn State can truly show they are sorry about what happened, and are serious about changes going forward. They can donate all the money they want to charities, but nothing will be a more visible sign of remorse to the public than seeing Beaver Stadium empty on a Saturday afternoon.
Will cancelling the football program hurt people who had nothing to do with the scandal? Absolutely. Players who committed to the school for this season, seniors who are looking forward to playing their last year, and kids who come to Penn State to enjoy the great atmosphere on a Saturday afternoon will suffer. But if Penn State decides to not punish the football program because of that, it just shows even more that they still don't get it.
Football is not important right now. They need to show that for the first time in a long time, they get that.
All across America today, the Penn State name is being dragged through the mud- and rightfully so. They have become the poster child for showing that football programs have way too much power. By self imposing the "death penalty" on the program, the Board of Trustees can show they recognize that has to change. By allowing it to continue, they are showing that nothing has changed, and that football still comes first in State College.
If Penn State announces today that they are cancelling the football season to take some time and evaluate how things are done at the school, how does the public reaction sway? Some people will still hate Penn State, but it's safe to say that many would applaud them for taking such a strong stance.
The black eye that Joe Paterno allowed the university to get by being a part of the Sandusky cover-up will likely never go away. Statue or no statue, the tragedies that Paterno allowed to occur in the football facilities will go down as how people remember him. It's a harsh reality, and one Penn State has to deal with. Their program is no longer a symbol of old time, good morals. The classic blue and white uniforms that stood for so much now stand for almost nothing.
By having the football program go away for a year, they can come back to start a new era of Penn State football. Cancel the season, then in a year hold a press conference saying that football is back and will be played/handled how it should have been all along. Talk about what the university has done over the past year, and how the money that was budgeted to go to the football program is now in the pockets of programs that protect children from people like Sandusky. Give the public a year to see that Penn State really is much more than just a football program. Show what a great place Penn State is, was, and continues to be.
The more that the details come out about what happened at Penn State, the more it seems like Sandusky's sick, despicable acts were only a part of the problem. The leadership, the culture, and Paterno played just as much of a role in getting Penn State to where it is today as Sandusky did. Penn State needs to show it is serious about changing that and showing the football program is no longer the king of Penn State.
Because if they're not going to do it now, then when will they?
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks