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Article updated: 7/14/2012 5:24 PM

Joe Paterno symbolizes hypocrisy of college football

By Mike Imrem

Joe Paterno is the symptom; college football is the disease.

Another example that college football is bloating even further is the playoff system that university presidents recently approved.

We'll connect the dots of these two stories a few paragraphs down.

First a little housecleaning concerning the deepening hole that the late Paterno is buried in over former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's rape of young boys.

No. 1 issue: The statue.

No, Penn State shouldn't remove the monument to its former head coach from outside the football stadium.

The likeness should remain but with the head twisted backward so Paterno is looking the other way like he did over Sandusky's atrocities.

No. 2 issue: The death penalty.

No, the NCAA shouldn't inflict Penn State's football program with capital punishment.

If every esteemed university's football program were suspended for a lack of integrity or institutional control, the entire sport would disappear.

Wait, maybe that isn't such a bad idea.

Anyway, the oncoming four-team playoff will make the sport even larger, more important and more hypocritical.

This is like the restaurant review stating that the food is terrible and the portions are too small.

So many of us complain that college football is corrupt and that the portions are too small ... so let's initiate a postseason that probably will lead to more corruption.

University administrators are complicit in this unfortunate dynamic. Fans of college football are. Members of the media are. We all feed the beast until the beast is full of itself.

Most of us can't identify a coach we would trust with our worst enemy's wallet, yet we continue to treat winning coaches like royalty. Yeah, sure, let's expand the playoffs so these guys can play for bigger trophies and become even larger than larger than life.

There isn't enough money polluting the sport so let's generate more and encourage more lying, more cheating and more cover-ups.

There isn't enough exploitation of supposed student-athletes so let's send them out for more games and more practices.

There aren't enough coaches like Paterno that are more dominant than anyone else on campus so let's create more of them.

How many more championships before Alabama's Nick Saban becomes as powerful as Paterno was? Or before Urban Meyer becomes the Big Ten's new Paterno? Or before some conference, maybe one down south, becomes the organized crime of intercollegiate football?

Look, I'm not opposed to a playoff system. I'm opposed to one without corresponding measures to draw football back into the campus community.

Ideally, players wouldn't be eligible as freshmen, which was the case until four decades ago, but that isn't plausible.

Here's something that is: Require football and basketball coaches to teach a couple of actual college classes. The objective would be to reduce them from iconic levels to academic levels.

Maybe they would stop thinking they can rule to the point of overruling their bosses in non-football matters, or at least stop being tempted to try.

Steps have to be taken to make it more difficult, if not impossible, for a head coach to exercise power over school administrators if an assistant coach rapes young boys on university property.

Short of these changes, OK then, assess the death penalty ... not just to Penn State but to the entire sport.

Cure the disease that is college football so the symptom that Joe Paterno has come to represent will disappear.


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