Let's get one thing straight right now.
The entire sport, culture and establishment of American college football is not worth the innocence of a single child.
Fans, coaches and administrators at Penn State thought -- and likely still think -- otherwise. That is why Jerry Sandusky was allowed to keep on raping young boys for years and years after pretty much every coach and administrator at the university knew he was the worst sort of degenerate -- the felonious pinnacle of pedophilic perversion.
If the man were in Texas, he easily would fall under the banner of "needs killin'."
Anywhere else, I would hope that, at a minimum, not one person would think that the son of a bitch should ever again see the light of day. It's a no-brainer.
Let me amend that. It's a no-brainer everywhere but State College, Pa. In State College, Pa., the former defensive coordinator of the Nittany Lions was allowed to befriend, groom and sodomize underprivileged and at-risk boys for at least 13 years after people at Penn State first realized there was a problem -- and a big one -- with Jerry Sandusky.
THIS WAS all in the name of preserving the good name of Penn State football. Of preserving the big, big business of Penn State football.
Ultimately, the indifference and the cover-up caught up with Coach Joe Paterno, President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and senior vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz. And when the university board of trustees fired Paterno, effectively closing the stable door after all the horses had made a run for it, thousands of Penn State students responded by rioting in downtown State College.
And it was out of fear of the mob that the board balked at reneging on the lucrative "go away quietly" package it had negotiated (as all hell was beginning to break loose) with Paterno -- who now, after the Grim Reaper caught up with him, too, stands before the highest court of all. Turns out that people don't take it well when their false gods and warped culture come under attack, no matter how justly.
SO NOW the NCAA gets the ball on downs. And in this interview Monday night with PBS talk host Tavis Smiley, NCAA President Mark Emmert refused to rule out the "death penalty" for Nittany Lion football.
Emmert said he's "never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university." He added, "What the appropriate penalties are, if there are determinations of violations, we'll have to decide."
The last time the NCAA shut down a football program with the so-called "death penalty" was in the 1980s, when SMU was forced to drop the sport because of extra benefits violations.
"This is completely different than an impermissible benefits scandal like [what] happened at SMU, or anything else we've dealt with," Emmert explained. "This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem. There have been people that said this wasn't a football scandal.
"Well, it was more than a football scandal, much more than a football scandal. It was that but much more. And we'll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don't know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it's really an unprecedented problem."
OR, AS ONE sports-law expert put it last week, “Let’s face it, a football coach raped kids and he did so facilitated allegedly by another football coach and athletic officials, and some of the crimes occurred in the Penn State showers. I think that’s sufficient nexus to the team.”
Given that, I was glad to hear the death penalty for Penn State is on the table. God willing, it soon will be off of the table and into effect.
As a rule, false gods need to be sent packing. When the worship of college football and the corruption of the big money made off of it leads to university officials tolerating child sexual abuse by someone associated with the football program -- as the by-then retired Sandusky obviously still was -- that particular false god needs to be killed, its graven image melted down and the ground it once stood upon plied with salt.
I DON'T give a damn that people will lose their jobs. I don't give a damn that motels and hotels in State College will lose money. I don't give a damn that players will have to scramble to find new teams.
No job, no business and no full-ride scholarship for any "student athlete" -- and the fact I felt compelled to put that in quotes is part and parcel of the corrupting influence of this particular false god in all too many cases -- is worth the innocence of a single child.
Penn State football can go to hell. And all the people who fed the monster, who bowed before the false god that it became, need to spend a few years of quality time with the Real One, making amends and doing penance.
I don't know whether or not Jerry Sandusky "needs killin'." But Penn State football sure as hell does.
Just do it.