The Dangers of Awarding Honors Prematurely

Current events interrupt the scheduled blog for today. The Big Ten Conference announced that they are removing Joe Paterno’s name from the conference championship trophy. I haven’t made my mind up regarding Paterno’s involvement, if any, in Penn State’s cover up of the crimes committed on its premises to young boys, but I do see the folly in bestowing honors on coaches still in the midst of their careers. If the evidence eventually exonerates Paterno, will the Big Ten return his name to the trophy? What will Penn State do about the statue of Joe Paterno that stands in front of Beaver Stadium.? Penn State would not have to make a decision regarding the statue if they had waited to put up a monument dedicated to him.

A few years ago, the National Football Foundation (NFF) interrupted the counting of votes on ballots submitted by voting members of the NFF to determine which coaches would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame to select two coaches for induction who were not on the ballot because they were not eligible for induction because of the rules in place at that time. The NFF quickly changed the rules in a tortured way to make Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno eligible, disregarded the ballots that had been cast, and selected Bowden and Paterno for the upcoming induction. That might have been Lone Star Dietz’s chance to be inducted but we will never know that because all the votes for him and the other candidates on the ballot were ignored.

Because of their premature action, the NFF now has to decide to strip Paterno of their honor as has the Big Ten Conference or to let him remain in the hall in spite of what happened while he was actively coaching. If the NFF had simply followed their own rules, the NFF would not have a decision to make.

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