Mark Emmert has had a bad year. As Penn State mourned Tuesday its one-year anniversary of unprecedented sanctions handed down by NCAA President Emmert and the NCAA, Emmert has seen his prestige and authority plummet.
Quite ironic, considering that Emmert posed as the conquering hero--the defender of the innocent and the outraged--just one year earlier
Now, facing a lawsuit from the Paterno Estate and ever-rising criticism of his organization’s legitimacy, Emmert appears to be backtracking.
Penn State fans remember well that fateful Monday morning one year ago, as Emmert puffed out his chest and raised the moral scepter in blasting Penn State’s football program into oblivion.
Want proof that Emmert desired the limelight? Listen to this language in his interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines: “The way in which this played out is that I asked the Executive Committee...to look at this in a very different light...to give me the authority for just this case.”
A year later, he wishes the questions would just stop coming. The first question from ESPN.com interviewer Mike Fish attacked Emmert’s bravado head-on.
Q: Could you talk about the Penn State decision? Why you made it? What the thought process was?
A: First of all, it wasn't my decision. That is one of the big points of confusion. This was a decision of the [NCAA] executive committee and the board of directors. I certainly participated in it, but as president of the association the president doesn't have the authority to make a decision like that.
My, my, my. That's quite a different story.
The tone of the rest of the article, which deals with all of Emmert’s blunders this past year, is certainly one of humility on Emmert’s part, He makes numerous admissions of mistakes, does much second-guessing, and (of particular interest to Penn State fans) mentions that it's possible and even “healthy” for sanctions to be rediscussed by the NCAA’s Executive Committee.
It appeared one year ago that Penn State had been unilaterally annihilated by an unchallenged supreme dictator. Now, it’s not so clear.
Could we be looking at sanctions reductions in the near future, something like the conservative plan I outlined last month? Or something even more lenient and immediate? Nittany Lion fans can only hope.
Emmert and the NCAA are in the midst of a firestorm. Maybe putting out the fire they unnecessarily lit in State College, Pennsylvania, would lessen that heat a bit.