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The June 1st Roundtable

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The gang comes together on the first day of June, talking about Rutgers, The Paterno family, and B1G Baseball venues.

I caught a fish THISSSSSSS big!!
I caught a fish THISSSSSSS big!!
Rich Schultz

1. The issues at Rutgers have been well documented and such, from the Mike Rice firing to the Eddie Jordan resume gaffe, to the hiring of new AD Julie Herrman. Some have called for the invitation from the Big Ten to Rutgers be rescinded. Do you think this is a legit issue that should call for a replacement? And, if so, who would you replace them with?

Jon: Rutgers probably can’t look any dumber than they do right now, but in the big scheme of things their sins are magnified because it’s the offseason and we’re all looking for something to talk about (which makes them incredibly stupid because you don’t want to be "THAT GUY" who ends up being the biggest news around because there isn’t any other big news going on.

Salt Creek and Stadium: They’re not getting un-invited, as much as Sparty fans and others may wish. Not to mention I’m not sure how much leverage the Big Ten has here. Seems to me this is an internal issue that Rutgers has to deal with. The story isn’t hardly radioactive - similar stories crop up every off-season.

Two main differences here, however. First, Rutgers is joining the Big Ten. Second, the administration at Rutgers is apparently full of morons or a near-approximation. They had a chance to move past Rice with a good AD hire and they don’t do a thorough background check? No one thought a candidate with a lawsuit about firing someone for being pregnant was a bad choice for a program that is still reeling from a head coach throwing basketballs at his players? Seriously?

At this point, the only thing that really surprises me is that Mark Emmert hasn’t swung his morality hammer yet, but I guess the story isn’t big enough. We probably need one or two more RAD personnel to go medieval on their charges before we get the Mark Emmert Show. And then he’ll throw down some random punishment because this is "outside the normal jurisdiction of the NCAA" or something.

David McGee: Well, it’s probably too late at this point give Rutgers the boot, but they are a mess right now and that needs to be dealt with, but that would be true even if they weren’t joining the Big Ten. They’re joining for the New York market and there’s not another team available that can deliver that. Syracuse might have been able to, but that ship sailed when the went to the ACC. I think they would have delivered that market better than Rutgers will anyway.

Andy K.: See Gordon Gee’s comments about those TV markets giving the Big 10 more money than God and you have your answer on any possibility of Rutgers being uninvited. (Personally, I’m not sure the Big 10’s going to be getting any kind of special value there - or did I miss the memo where Big East games were ratings blockbusters? Except for blips in Boston & Syracuse, the Northeast give not a shit about college football.)

Brian: A friendly reminder that 1) outside of TV sets, we all still have no clue why Rutgers (and Maryland) were invited, and 2) we all thought that Maryland, with their borrow now and pay later deal, was going to be the bigger issue. That being said, if Penn State couldn’t get the death penalty from the B1G, how is Rutgers going to get it. Speaking of Penn St...

2. Why can’t the Paterno family go away? Why does the family have to "sue" the NCAA on behalf of a school that can’t distance themselves away far enough?

Jon: They shouldn’t go away. They should be doing exactly what they’re doing, which is trying to protect their interests because no one else involved in that whole sordid affair did. One could question whether Penn State’s leadership did a very good job of protecting the best interests of the university as whole.

(NOT A LAWYER) If this lawsuit leads to the discovery of the conversations between Mark Emmert/NCAA and Penn State’s leadership and it’s found that there was coercion, don’t you think that’s a valid reason for a lawsuit because the opposite side of that is that you’re perfectly okay with the NCAA using whatever methods they can for enforcement which by the way includes your school because the precedent has already been set.

If you’re one of those people who think that Penn State should be burned down and all the faculty, students, staff and alumni be poisoned slowly because you enjoy identifying evil everywhere but where you are at the time - I want you to know that someday they will come for you. (THIS IS MY PERKY ANSWER!)

Salt Creek: The Paterno family would do themselves a HUGE favor and stop publicizing their actions. As Jon says, they have every right to do their due diligence to protect their own interests. But parading it around in public, a public who is already not receptive (and borderline hostile), seems counter-productive and just serves to rile everyone up. They’re basically the Amy’s Baking Company of college athletics and that’s not a good thing. Shut up, file your suits, do your due diligence and let the courts decide if your case has merit. File appeals if you have to. But stop dragging Penn State through the mud. Let the University move on. My biggest fear in all this is that the Paternos won’t know when to stop. At some point, they’ll be doing more harm to Joe’s legacy than actual good.

I mean, what legacy are they worried about if they’re going after the NCAA? Are words in a record book really that important? Is that all Joe cared about? Is that all the Paternos are about? Is all their work at Penn State, their library and everything else, was that just for show?

What legacy are the Paternos preserving by taking on the NCAA?

Robert Wheel at the Mothership has an interesting take on this situation.

Andy K.: I agree with Jon that the Paternos should keep parading around, but for completely different reasons. I want the public to be constantly reminded how deluded these people are. In their mind, JoePa’s "legacy" is the most important facet of the whole affair. Not Sandusky, not the kids, not what happened to the university, but that their beloved, little power-mad JoePa is remembered as a sweet old guy. Oh and they want to be able to drop that Paterno name and have people jump again too.

This isn’t about protecting their interests at all. JoePa ran that valley like Hyman Roth for years. You didn’t even get hotel blocks on game weekends without his OK. When the bottom fell out, the university yanked the family’s free skybox and it went downhill from there. They want their power back. They’re not going to get it.

And everyone can stop about how the NCAA didn’t follow due process this or that. It wasn’t a trial, it was an organization’s internal issue. If Emmert wants to give himself special powers and hire an independent investigator, he can. The NCAA can investigate how they like, penalize how they and If Penn St doesn’t like it, they’re free to leave anytime.

And, no, I don’t want the everyone still there burned to the ground, but I also have had it with the pro-Penn St crowd trying to play a card that the WHOLE UNIVERSITY & FOOTBALL PROGRAM shouldn’t have to suffer because of JUST A FEW GUYS. It was an institutional cover-up of crimes at the highest levels of the athletic department and the university. Both must suffer consequences.

And I think it’s extremely telling that the university itself has no interest in fighting the sanctions. Personally, I think they are scared to death of what else a guy willing to cover up child rape might have been capable of over the years. The last thing they want are are any more of Paterno’s rocks being turned over.

Brian: Salt, my man, it’s about legacy. It’s about getting paid for that name still. It’s about Franco Harris’ delusional wanderings into meetings and, even though he’s cut off of a mike, still talking about Paterno as he’s been convicted of a crime he wasn’t even in the same country for. This is the same group that still puts a cardboard cutout of JoePa in a suite during PSU games.

Most Penn State fans want this to disappear behind them and move on. However, for the dozens that want to move on, there are a few that keep it going. People like the ones dropping pieces to SI that bash Bill O’Brien (who is shaping up to be as good of a hire as PSU could have made), people like Jay Paterno, like Franco... I could go on. Jay Paterno could have even dropped this lawsuit in a presser in State College. But, that’s not big enough, he had to put it on Bob Costas’ show after a Stanley Cup game and whore himself out. Then again, when Jerry Sandusky went on with Costas, things didn’t go as planned then either.

3. Mike talked about the disparity of what the B1G tourney in TD Ameritrade will bring to what happened in Minneapolis. Should the B1G also consider smaller parks, like Principal Park in Des Moines, Alexian Fields in Schaumburg Ill (where the Schaumburg Flyers used to play), and Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Illinois (home of the Jackhammers)?

Jon: The Big Ten shouldn’t consider smaller parks if the reasoning for doing so is because it’ll look bad on TV. I liked the tournament at Target Field. I was there for most of it, and you couldn’t ask for a finer facility. It was a great tournament (although it ended sadly for Nebraska) and maybe the more that gets out, the Big Ten can start building on something. There were a number of facility improvements this year, and most teams realize they have to invest in their programs in order to make them more attractive to fans.

If they put it in smaller stadiums most people have never heard of, why would more fans want to attend?

DM: It doesn’t matter where you put it if you put it in a place where college baseball is invisible. I think if you put it in Indy or Omaha or perhaps Columbus, places where college sports are a big deal, you’ll see a better turnout. the players undoubtedly loved playing in a Major League facility. For nearly all of them, on all teams, it’s an opportunity that they’ll perhaps never get again. There’s meaning there for the plays to play in a facility like that. I think you’ll have a similar experience next year in Omaha, but if it’s for TV, you put it in a place where college sports and college baseball are at least semi-relevant, which makes Omaha a natural fit. I think you’d pack out Werner Park when Nebraska played, especially if they made a deep run in the tournament. I think you’ll see big crowds for Husker games next year, but the size of the venue isn’t the issue, it’s the lack of interest in the community they chose to put it in.

Salt Creek: It’s a huge mistake to cater your sport to TV crowds. Regardless where you put the tournament, you should be advertising to the local sports fans to come out to your event. You should be getting the local city excited to be hosting the conference tournament. Considering how much people like the MLB and Minor League Baseball, it shouldn’t be hard to convince locals to enjoy a weekend slate of baseball at low prices, especially if they can host it at a MLB stadium.

Brian: Let’s face this, that putting it in Target Field, while a good idea, just didn’t work out very well when it came to attendance. Also, most of us are really confident about TD Ameritrade filling up, but there is a chance that it doesn’t happen (especially if Nebraska doesn’t make the tournament, ask Michigan State about that). Smaller minor league parks could work, as you can take an example like Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City and see that the Big 12 does okay there year in and out. Then again, that could be from stability from being there instead of moving like the Big 10 Tourney does. Schaumburg is close to Chicago, so is Joliet. Des Moines, I would think, is urban enough to consider the tourney.

Andy K: I’ve never been able to make up my mind completely on this. A smaller venue that’s well attended is a more exciting game experience for the fans & players, but I also see the point of the how the players would dig getting to play in a big league ballpark, which the majority of them will never do.

In the end, I think I lean toward the 1st, because the atmosphere of 3,500 coming to watch a game in place that hold 42,000 is about the same as a football practice that has press milling about in the stands. Of course, it’s much easier to spot cops coming for your flask and keep them at a distance, so I’m back to square one.