Hardball | January 08, 2013
>>> we're back. the college football season has come to an end but in pennsylvania the battle is just beginning. republican governor tom corbett is suing the ncaa over the sanctions it handed penn state following a sex abuse scandal that rocked that place. in june former assistant coach jerry sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse involving ten boys over a 15-year span. penn state sanctions included a $60 million fine, a four-year bowl game bans, wins from 1998 through 2011 being vacated and a reduction in scholarships. punishments neither the school or governor objected to at the time. now the governor says the ncaa has piled on and the penn state community is suffering unnecessarily. let's watch the governor.
>> i believe the ncaa took actions and piled on choosing to levy in their words unprecedented sanctions against penn state and its football program. these sanctions are an attack on the past, present, and future students of penn state . the citizens of our commonwealth and our economy. as governor of this commonwealth i cannot and will not stand by and let it happen without a fight.
>> well, corbett has been under the spotlight for his role in this scandal because he was the commonwealth's attorney general when the state began investigating sandusky . the incoming attorney general, democrat kathleen cane, campaigned on a promise to find out why the case dragged on for so long. michael smerconish is an expert on this issue. he's the nationally syndicated radio host and an msnbc political analyst and the great buzz bissinger is a best-selling author and columnist for the daily beast . i'm going to have to start with our guest, michael. let's go to buzz on this. what is going on here? i'm looking at all the numbers. we don't have to do -- corbett has been in trouble politically. the state people -- the vote he is don't like the way he's the way he's handled matters. suddenly they're coming to his support saying what a great job he's doing in fighting these sanctions against penn state . is this just sheer politics or what?
>> i mean, i think it's total politics . i mean, i think the suit is absurd. many legal scholars have said it's completely absurd and has no standing. if it was fully litigated, the sanctions would be over against penn state . i live in pennsylvania. i don't want my money wasted on this thing. he clearly did this to appeal to the penn state base and community and alums which are a huge part of the state. because he may be in trouble for re-election. it's one of the most transparent political acts i've ever seen and really, really despicable. it means he didn't get it. it also means penn state didn't get it. they're a silent partner in this. this was about the culture of football . it was a hideous criminal act . to say it's not -- football has nothing to do with it, it's a disgrace.
>> in my religion, it's good to suffer some penance in admission of guilt. then you move on. when you don't accept punishment for it or penance for it, it stays with you. why doesn't penn state want to get this over with, take their punishment and penalty and get in the huddle and figure out the future? why do they want to go back at this thing when everybody knows they were guilty?
>> well, i think penn state probably does want to continue on and get this behind them. and i think it needs to be pointed out this is governor corbett acting independent of penn state . listen, chris. i share the skepticism of buzz bissinger about the acts. he has taken a thumping in the poles personally. this litigation might be popular with litigations. one of the reason he's taken such a hurt is people wonder why as an attorney general it took him so long to move on sandusky . why when he had one credible reporter meaning a child who was then founded in his complaints. why didn't they slap the cuffs on sandusky ? but i have to say, i don't like that ncaa sanction. i think it was too stiff of a sanction on the football program. something with which i know buzz disagrees.
>> what about this case dealing with rape of a young boy . what do you do when you find that was covered up?
>> you prosecute those who participated. and the criminal process one at a time is dealing with these wrong doers. sandusky is away for life. he'll never come out. paterno has passed on. and three more guys are about to have their day in court. i think that the criminal process is working.
>> well, buzz, here's the problem. everybody watches. that's why we have criminal sanctions. not just to punish the guilty. not just to avenge a victim. although that's part of it. but to teach a lesson. what's the lesson here if penn state gets off scot-free and the governor who was not pushing the case hard enough perhaps -- that's open to interruption -- is the one that lets them go free. forget it efr happened.
>> i agree with you. there should be penance. there should be punishment. we could argue this all day long. i don't think there's any doubt this went to the heart of the culture of football . this was a 15-year coverup that involved a well respected assistant coach who coached the defense. it took forever. they gave him every benefit of the doubt . they worried much more about him than the actual victims. this is the essence of the culture of football . corbett knows about the culture of football . all he talks about is how important it is in the suit. if these sanctions are lifted, then this thing is a mockery. this is one of the times i think the ncaa acted quickly and responsibly. penn state should feel we're lucky we didn't get the death penalty . fans could still go to the games. if they play in a bowl game , state college is not going to get the money from that. and to take it away, for corbett to waste his time, it's not going anywhere. maybe he wants the 60 million bucks to stay in the state. but i think this was a disgrace.
>> last thought, michael. what's going to happen with this? is this going to save corbett or not? your thoughts?
>> you can't beat somebody with nobody. it remains to be seen who emerges to run against him in next year's election. i would respond to buzz and say a lot of people got hurt in this sanction that played no role whatsoever in the scandal that took place. who relies on the trade. when the football program is diminished, his business goes down. that's not right.
>> the trouble with that line of thinking is they can justify a lot. thank you, i respect the thinking of the little guy there. thank you so much. we'll be right back. and thank you buzz bissinger . you're watching "hardball,"