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NY Times Says Penn State Football Can Learn From UK Basketball


Penn State football’s punishment from the NCAA is one of the three most severe ever handed out by the NCAA. SMU’s death penalty sentence in 1987 and Kentucky basketball’s hit in 1989 are really the only two comparable sanctions ever placed upon a college program. Thus as Penn State looks to try and recover, the NY Times today suggested that UK basketball’s rise should become their model. Harvey Araton traces the way that Rick Pitino sought to build the UK program back, focusing primarily on how he was able to keep any players in the system. He notes that most of the good players left campus, but the ones that stayed ended up having a different type of reward that made them legends in the state of Kentucky. After noting that Farmer, Pelphrey, Feldhaus and Woods all ended up with their jerseys retired, he concludes,

Those seniors – known in Kentucky as the Unforgettables – helped peeled away for a short time the layers of ostentation that have bloated big-time college sports. At Penn State, there is no choice but to get smaller and think smaller. Given the somewhat grotesque feeding frenzy the N.C.A.A. has sanctioned, players have every right to leave to play for a national title or simply on a team not staggered by scandal.

There are no guarantees anywhere, but those who stay may discover there are rewards to downscaling they never would have imagined.

The article as a whole is worth reading, although there will be very little new for most UK fans. I have read some criticism from folks who don’t like UK being “compared” to Penn State, but I don’t think that is the article’s goal at all. The scandals at the two schools are nothing alike, but the recovery process for both can have some similarities. For Penn State’s sake, I am sure their fans and coaches hope that there are a few Unforgettables left at State College.

Article written by Matt Jones

9 Comments for NY Times Says Penn State Football Can Learn From UK Basketball

  1. UKBlue
    9:27 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Different time, different place, different sport, different Pubic Relations image problem. It’s much harder to rebuild a football team (especially under Penn circumstances) than UK had rebuilding basketball. Penn is looking at 10 – 20 years if ever to breath the air it once breathed.

  2. UK fan with sense
    9:29 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    And we owe it all to Rick. You know, the man you trash and obsess about on a daily basis.

  3. catzrjamrs
    11:34 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    Nice read from the NYT. Thamel must have been out of the office today or there would have been a line of Cal bashing in there somewhere. It’s going to be a long haul for PSU, maybe some of their in state kids can take something from this. Hate to see them penalized for things they had nothing to do with.

  4. matt
    11:43 pm July 25, 2012 Permalink

    leave our name out of this…cash payments were nothing compared to PSU so the circumstance is totally different

  5. Duke Sucks
    2:04 am July 26, 2012 Permalink

    #4 I don’t think they were talking about the crime only how to bring the program back so lighten up. basketball is totally different 2 or 3 players can turn things around as we seen with Mash. Look at what Cal did in Tubby and Clyde’s screw ups. Football is a different beast all together. Brooks did a amazing job looking back. I think Alabama is probably a better blue print for PSU. Only bad thing is it cost Mike Shula his job. I see know way PS coach can survive all the losing that’s coming their way.

  6. Duke Sucks
    2:11 am July 26, 2012 Permalink

    #2 I agree with you 100%. Slick Rick was the only man for that job. I hurts me to say it though. Mash deserves a lot of credit too. With out him we wouldn’t be what we are now. I do think UK made Ricky too though. Because it was UK Ricky went from a good coach to a great coach it was a two way street.

  7. catsforever
    7:31 am July 26, 2012 Permalink

    If it was not for CM Newton then Rick P. would never have happened at UK. Give credit where its due. Thank you Mr. Newton.

  8. Head Bussa
    8:39 am July 26, 2012 Permalink

    1 — The writer totally makes that point clear about the difference b/w football and basketball. I think this article was fantastic and basically just describes an approach the team can take into each game and how Penn St.’s coaching staff and team can think on a smaller rewards scale. I certainly don’t believe it will take no 10 or 20 years to get back as they are Penn St. and when they are allowed to recruit fully again they will begin amassing a new tradition with good players based on an old tradition that was as good as any other. I understand how disturbing these allegations are, but the writer is right about how dear a good sizable portion of Pennsylvanians hold Penn St. to their hearts. There are 106,000 people in those Beaver Stadium stands every week and regardless, they will be getting donations that UK football can only dream of. In-state kids will still want to come there and those players will have to reach small goals for the future teams to be able to pursue bigger ones. There is no doubt in my mind though that PSU football will be back one day down the road. This is a program, in my opinion, that is too big to fail.

  9. fb>bb
    8:47 am July 26, 2012 Permalink

    To say SMU and Kentucky were the only comparable sanctions is false. Dozens of other schools have faced the same sanctions Kentucky Basketball’s did.