Should The Eastern Independents Turn Back On Penn State? And The Big Finish

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 02: Chima Okoli #52, John Urschel #64, Matt Stankiewitch #54 and Johnnie Troutman #74 of the Penn State Nittany Lions during the TicketCity Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium on January 2, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Brian: The story of the college football offseason centers on State College, Pennsylvania, the Penn State football program and what its iconic leader, the late Joe Paterno, did and didn't do. Reactions to the Freeh Report run the gamut. Some want Penn State football to receive the Death Penalty. It's also been reported that the Department of Education could strip the university of federal funding and its' Division I status which, for all intents and purposes, would be the academic equivalent of the Death Penalty but with much more far-reaching consequences.

The details of the events that unfolded at Penn State are best left to other news outlets. That's not meant to trivialize the tragedy in Penn State in the slightest. Rather to table the broader discussion of the impact of this scandal on the sport as a whole.

Let's first set aside any arrogance here. Boston College, much like Penn State, is not perfect. While BC and Penn State are often touted as two of the last four "innocents" from the major conferences, Boston College has a less-than-perfect track record with a major basketball point-shaving scandal in the 1970s and a football one in the 1990s as black marks on the department. Northwestern, one of the other "innocents," has a similar point shaving incident in its athletics history.

That said, my thoughts turned to what will be the eventual fall out from the Freeh Report and the scandal to rock Penn State football. Many more questions than answers at this point, but several things come to mind:

1) Will Penn State receive the football Death Penalty?
2) Will the penalties reach far past the gridiron to the university as a whole?
3) What will the Big Ten do?
4) What will the rest of college football do in response?

It's that fourth question that's on my mind today. Specifically, what will the once Eastern Independents -- Pittsburgh, Syracuse, BC, Rutgers, West Virginia and Temple -- do in response. I was wondering whether, depending on the action that both the NCAA and Big Ten take, would the Eastern Independents either independently or collectively decide to turn their backs on Penn State, refusing to schedule the program in non-conference play?

While BC doesn't have Penn State on the future schedule, the Eagles have faced the Nittany Lions as recently as 2003-04. The two programs have faced one another a number of times in the past with Penn State owning a lopsided 19-4 record in the all-time series.

While BC doesn't have Penn State on the future schedule, many of the once Eastern Independents do. Syracuse is scheduled to play Penn State in 2013 (in East Rutherford), 2020 and 2011. Temple in 2014 (away), 2015 (home) and 2016 (away). Rutgers in 2014-2015. Intra-state rival Pittsburgh in 2016-2017.

Could the Eastern Independents collectively turn its back on Penn State, canceling their non-conference series with the Nittany Lions as a statement against the inaction on the part of the school's and football program's leadership at stopping this tragedy? And if they did, what would be the long-term impact on Northeast college football? Your thoughts?

Jeff: Today, I think the answer to the first three questions are no, no and nothing. Everyone who was a part of what is now being talked about at Penn State is no longer associated with the university. Some of the people had already been gone for several years. Very unfortunately, there have been many rape charges around college football over the years including at BC in 2008 and I don't recall the NCAA doing anything about it. These are criminal charges that a court of law handles, not the NCAA. Now Penn State has reached a whole new level compared to what other colleges have dealt with in terms of players or coaches facing some criminal charges, but I still don't think that this will cause the NCAA to give Penn State the death penalty, nor will the Big Ten dismiss them from the conference. Many people have lost their jobs over this and many lives have been ruined. The NCAA usually punishes teams/universities for trying to get an advantage on the field and this issue did not help them on the field whatsoever.

Your last question about whether or not some other schools might avoid scheduling Penn State is interesting. I'm sure if they were trying to fill an opening in their schedule today, they'd have a big problem. I can even see some schools pulling out of some future games with Penn State because Penn State has certainly lost value as a football program and in the near future, they will be traveling with much more baggage than some schools might care to deal with. Also, there is a very good chance that some powerful people at a Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers or whatever, will push to make a statement against Penn State and their inaction by being the first to pull them from the schedule.

Big Finish

Brian: MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson believes the college football playoff will be expanded to 8 teams before the 12-year agreement is up. Do you?

Jeff: I don't, I think it will happen in the following agreement.

Jeff: On the morning of August 30, everyone in the nation has the chance of going undefeated. Are you starting to feel that day get closer and are getting more positive about the Eagles' chances this year?

Brian: The day is getting closer, though I'm not sure why this is supposed to make me feel any more positive about BC's chances.

Brian: KPL on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list. Will he make the first cut?

Jeff: Yes, someone has to eat up Kuechly's old stats.

Jeff: Right now you can get 300-1 on your money for BC to win the national championship and 100-1 on BC to win the ACC. Doesn't make sense, right, since BC has no chance at BCSNCG without winning ACC?

Brian: Sounds reasonable. If BC wins the ACC, there's a decent shot they wouldn't even make the title game.

Brian: This southern NJ recruit chose Temple over BC, West Virginia and UMass. Surprised?

Jeff: Not surprised because Temple is only an hour from home for him.

Jeff: GDF has not retired from his position at BC but it appears he has retired from Twitter since @BCGeneD has not tweeted since January 14th. If we start off with a win against Miami, what do you think he would have tweeted?

Brian: I think it's a good move seeing as the football team is undefeated since GDF's Twitter vacation.

Brian: Last one. Looks like BC may have an epic rivalry weekend this year with BC-Notre Dame hockey on Friday, BC-Notre Dame football on Saturday and BC-Boston University hockey on Sunday. BC's combined record on Sunday night of that weekend?

Jeff: I think we have a very good chance at 2-1 but all games could go either way and an 0-3 weekend could be really painful.

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