On Monday, while the NFL was doing out indefinite suspensions to Ray Rice to save its neck, the NCAA threw a life line out towards Penn State's stranded program by reinsintating their bowl eligibility immediately. In additon, the program will also have a full slate of 85 scholarships available (up from 80) in 2014. It was a stunning, unprovoked move for the NCAA to make considering the severity of the crimes that led to the NCAA swinging their hammer.
However, Penn State's compliance with nearly each of the 119 recommendations made by independent investigator Louis Freeh has gone a long ways in the eyes of the NCAA.
"Penn State has made remarkable progress over the past year," said South Carolina president Harris Pastides, a member of the NCAA's board of directors. "The board members and I believe the executive committee's decision is the right one. It allows both the university and the association to continue to move toward a common goal of ensuring that educating, nurturing and protecting young people is a top priority."
The school still must pay a $60 million fine, 112 wins under Joe Paterno remain forfeited, and the program will remain under monitoring.
This will be a polarizing issue for those who believe this reduction sends a terrible message about the university's importance placed on football and those who believe punishing Penn State for a criminal cover-up involving a former defensive coordinator was never the NCAA's place.
One person who won't be happy and isn't afraid to express it is USC athletic director Pat Haden who sought the same leniency for the Trojans after the NCAA raised the scholarship limit from 65 scholarships starting in 2014, to 75 scholarships in 2014, 80 in 2015 and a return to normalcy with 85 in 2016.
USC's ban won't end until the end of the 2014 season.
Pat Haden reaction after hearing that Penn State's off on parole for good behavior while USC's gotta finish their bid pic.twitter.com/uponkMOhI1— DJ Meta Dunson (@CerebralSportex) September 8, 2014
From a purely football perspective, this was a much needed boost for the Big Ten after an awful weekend.