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Beating a Dead Horse

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You know, it's hard work keeping a college football blog going in June. There just isn't much to talk about, and sometimes it's a bit stressful coming up with material so you all keep coming back. Sometimes when news is slow I'll tastefully throw a shot across the bow of a rival blog to stir things up a bit. Other times we luck out and a rival blog throws a shot over the bow of BSD. Today our Huckleberry is Dave from Maize-n-Brew who doesn't like Judicial Affairs' punishment for the Penn State players involved in the apartment fight and takes exception with my view of the situation. Please go read Dave's post and rejoin us here at BSD. There's more to it than just this quote.

Mike's right, innocent until proven guilty. But the evidence indicates both young men were involved in the fracas. In my opinion, an indefinite suspension is appropriate until the charges against them are dropped or their names are cleared like the other athletes involved in the incident. In an offseason that has seen a disconcerting rise in violence by student athletes across the country and especially in the Big Ten, sterner punishment was warranted.

With all due respect to Mike and the PSU faithful, I think the University really missed the boat on this one. You may now proceed to loathe me.

First of all, there is no "loathing" here. Maize-n-Brew is a good friend of ours here at BSD and we value his opinion very much, although it is grossly uninformed. We've covered this inside, outside, sideways, and upside down here at BSD, but it's the offseason and I got nothin' else today so let's go over it one more time.

First we have to recognize there are three different bodies these students have to answer to for their actions: The criminal justice system, Univerisity Judicial Affairs, and Joe Paterno. Dave is taking exception with body number two in the list, Judicial Affairs.

It's important to note Judicial Affairs doesn't care about criminal charges. Students can have all charges dropped and still face sanctions from Judicial Affairs, as Sales, Hayes, and Sargeant can all attest. Students could have no charges filed at all and still face punishiment from Judicial Affairs. So the fact that criminal charges are still pending against Scirrotto and Baker doesn't matter to Judicial Affairs.

Theoretically, Judicial Affairs doesn't care that there are Penn State football players are involved. Hopefully, they treat all Penn State students equally. As far as the criminal justice system is concerned, there are technically felony charges involved. But when you break it down on a basic level, it was just a fight. A fight in which nobody was seriously injured at that. Normally these things are dealt with by putting the offending students on probation. My question to MnB is, don't you think expelling a student with a clean record for an entire fall or even spring semester is a bit excessive? College students, and particularly drunk males, get in fights all the time. Pick any Saturday night in State College, and I suspect Ann Arbor too, and you'll most likely have a handful of fist fights in the bars and frat houses. I'm not condoning it and saying it's ok in any way, but I think expelling a student, any student, with a clean record for an entire semester is a bit excessive.

Dave points to the Christian Richards/Carson Butler situation at Michigan as a model for how this situation should be handled. For those not familiar, Richards and Butler were dismissed from the Wolverines this spring for beating up a fellow student. On the surface this may seem like a decent analogy, but when you read up on it you see these situations are completely different. Richards and Butler beat up on a completely innocent guy in a case of mistaken identity. They also inflicted serious injury on the victim to the point he bled from the ears and had blood in his urine. The report also says Butler was not with the team at the time of the incident although Lloyd Carr explicitly said he was not injured. I think it's safe to say his record was less than clean.

The situation with the Penn State players is completely different. First, Scirrotto was assaulted to start the entire chain of events. It's not like he was beating up some random guy he thought "dissed him". He called his teammates, which admittedly wasn't smart, but to date there is no evidence to suggest he intended to instigate Wrestle Mania. In fact, I believe if that were the intentions of the reportedly forty players as they made the half mile walk from Nittany Apartments to the scene of the apartment brawl, somebody would have wised up and questioned the intelligence of their crusade long before they got there. I think it's more likely they either intended to scare the guys who punched their teammate or just watch their teammate's back as he settled the score on his own.

There were reports of broken bar stools and bottles smashed over people's heads, but during all the testimony we heard, nobody placed the bottle or stool in any specific player's hands. Nobody said they saw Scirrotto throw a single punch. Chris Baker, who many people assume was the biggest thug in the group, still maintains this is a case of mistaken identity.

I don't think for a second that all the players are 100% innocent. I just don't think anybody knows the details of what happened that night, but we do know that there was mutual blame and nobody was seriously injured. Bottom line, this was just a fight between students who had too much alcohol. Some of those students happen to be football players. People outside the Penn State family will cry foul when they read that they will be back in time for football season. But ask yourself, if these were just regular students who got in a fight and they got suspended from school for the entire fall semester, would that seem right?

Again, I don't condone anything these players did, but I don't think they deserved to miss a half year of school for it. They still face potential punishment from the criminal justice system. And we all know Joe Paterno has them cleaning the stadium and doing several hours of community service with the Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity. I suspect we'll still see a few players sit out a game or two. In my opinion, this is sufficient punishment for a drunken fight.

NOTE: EDSBS gets in on the action too.