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Sports Agenda for Thursday (11/10/11)

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Florida Panthers v Toronto Maple Leafs
Miami Dolphins

Big Story:
What a news cycle in the sports world. We’ll touch on the NBA lockout, the ongoing Penn State mess, along with a preview of Thursday night football and should Al Golden consider Penn State?
[FYI, I tweeted my predictions last night around 7:00 p.m. and said Paterno would be out by the end of the night and the NBA lockout would be finished by the weekend. (I’m halfway there)]
Unlike Rick Perry, we know what we’re doing here, so let’s get to the agenda.

Penn State Fallout:
Joe Paterno was ousted last night by the PSU Board of Trustees as was the school president.
It was the right move on a multitude of levels and had Paterno been more of a man, he would have resigned effective immediately.
But he forced the Board’s hand and in a first, an academic institution stood up to a larger-than-life football coach.
If you watched the press conference with the board last night, I hope you were as disgusted as I was with the “questions” coming from the audience.
I’ve never heard reporters treating anyone that way, and several of the “reporters” in the room should be ashamed of themselves.
Still, I think as journalists we need to re-evaluate something here.
The story in this instance isn’t about Joe Paterno or Penn State University.
The story is about the raping of innocent children who had their lives crushed by the action of one man and the inaction of a group of men.
I think we’ve all taken our eyes off the ball as we focused on the impact of Joe Paterno and the football program.
You see, Penn State University ceased to exist many years ago.
Instead it became Paterno State University, as the coach became bigger than the school itself.
Paterno and the University kept feeding the beast and eventually it became so big it collapsed on itself.
What happened should be a warning to every university in the nation.
Once you turn over your institution to the athletic department and a larger than life coach, this can be the result.
The coaches will want to protect themselves and the university will want to protect itself from outside problems.
It’s an ugly scenario that gets played out to a degree both in academic institutions and in the business world, protect the brand at all costs.
Penn State is just the latest example.
But still, we as journalists mustn’t forget the real victims in the story.
Obviously, the selfish Penn State students chose to look past it last night when they were marching in the streets for Paterno.
He’s not the victim. He made his bed and now he has to sleep in it.
And please, can we not call this a sex scandal?
That implies it was consensual.
This is a child rape scandal, plain and simple, and should be called something along those lines.

NBA Lockout Update:
After 12 hours of talks Wednesday into Thursday morning, for the first time there is a cautious optimism that a deal is near.
It still may blow up again, but here’s where I’m guessing things stand as of now.
The framework for a deal is done, but there are details that are still hanging up the entire deal from being agreed upon.
Neither the owners or the players will say they are optimistic, but they are trying to move the process forward, maybe, I think.
As I said yesterday, there are three items holding up the deal from reports at the scene.
The division of basketball related income, the mid-level exception, and the sign & trade clause surrounding taxpaying teams.
There also has to be a settlement of the revenue sharing amongst the owners.
But for the first time, I’m actually going to say that I’m optimistic that a deal is near.
They’re going back to negotiations Thursday, so I still say something is done by the weekend. Maybe. I think. I hope.

Al Golden Update:
On the one hand, Al Golden can go back to his alma mater and play savior.
He’ll have no expectations because the school will be in full-fledged rebuilding mode and as long as the program is clean, no one will worry about the wins and losses.
On the other hand, he’d walk into a firestorm that makes UM look like a cakewalk.
I’m not sure he’s willing to do that, and I can’t really blame him.
Yes it’s his alma mater. Yes he’s been rumored to take over the job for years.
But would you want to walk into the eye of that storm?
The school will first have to hire a new president and athletic director.
Then, the school will target a head coach.
Golden may face sanctions here, but the expectations will be much lower based on those sanctions.
He’ll be allowed to build his program and put his stamp on it and pull from the best talent in the country.
I just don’t see Golden heading north to PSU.
But, I’ve been wrong before.

Thursday Night Football: (Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers, 8:00 p.m., NFL Network)
Wow, talk about a battle of two teams heading to the bottom of the league.
San Diego has been hamstrung by the same problems the Indianapolis Colts have been.
Both the Chargers and Colts have great quarterbacks and have chosen to surround them with substandard talent.
Phillip Rivers misses Darren Sproles and Antonio Gates is only a shell of his former self.
And the Chargers defense, once a strength, is now getting beat by anyone who plays them.
Enter the Oakland Raiders who are still breaking in Carson Palmer and will be without Darren McFadden.
The Raiders receivers should be able to feast on the Chargers secondary.
If Ryan Matthews isn’t 100% for the Chargers, then the Raiders can pin their ears back and go after Rivers and watch him throw picks all night long.
If you’re a betting man, take the Raiders by 6 points over the Chargers.

Panthers: (@ Winnipeg Jets, 8:30 p.m., Fox Sports Florida)
Don’t forget the Panthers, South Florida’s most successful pro sports team, is playing tonight in Winnipeg.
A win, combined with a Capitals loss, could put the Panthers in first place in the southeast division.
Wow, never thought I’d write that again.

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