Some may look at this weekend's showdown between Big Ten foes, Ohio State and Penn State, as two teams who have traveled similar paths.
Sure, both schools are perfect in conference play, have brand new coaches roaming the sideline, and are currently two of the hottest programs in the country — winning 13 straight games between them.
But what makes them 'two peas in a pod' to many is the fact that both have been ruled ineligible by the NCAA to participate in this year's post-season — Penn State for another three years following — for failing to monitor their respective programs.
Ohio State has received sanctions for covering up an improper benefits scandal, while Penn State has been reprimanded for coaches and administrators concealing child sex abuse by one of its former assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky.
According to Penn State senior linebacker Mike Mauti, though, the Buckeyes are more deserving of their punishment.
"We're kind of in the same boat, but their boat is a little bit different than ours," Mauti said. "We didn't do anything to get our sanctions. Ours are unrelated (to football) ... "
"We didn't do anything to help our program cheat."
I have to disagree with Mauti's statement ... or more his logic.
First, both teams consist of innocent players and coaches who are paying for the sins of those who are guilty and no longer part of the program. Sure, there are a few players like Jordan Hall, "Pittsburgh" Brown and Travis Howard, who committed minor violations — and were punished accordingly by the NCAA — but none remaining who were part of the scandal that brought a one-year bowl ban.
Using Mauti's logic, OSU's situation wasn't related to football either. It was about individuals who sold their own possessions for cash and services. It wasn't as if the school was paying players or providing memorabilia in order for them to sell. It was a choice of a few young men and a cover up by their head coach that hurt Ohio State.
All of those violators are gone now, but the current players and coaches — who had nothing to do with it — are paying the consequences.
Mauti is correct about none of the current Nittany Lion players doing anything to help the team cheat. However, if he considers what happened at Ohio State as "football-related," then you have to declare the same for what went down at State College.
Children were sexually abused by a former assistant coach (Sandusky) for more than a decade, and in some instances even happening in the building that houses the program. Also, former head coach Joe Paterno — as well as the school's former president and AD — knew about the ghastly acts, and covered it up for the good of the football program.
Whether Mauti wants to come to terms with that or not, the bottom line is, it had everything to do with football, because like in Ohio State's case, it was all about protecting the team.
Now, do I think it's fair for Penn State players to be punished for something they didn't do? Absolutely not! Just as I feel it is wrong for guys like Braxton Miller to be prohibited from showcasing his talents in a bowl game because of something that Terrelle Pryor did when Miller was a sophomore in high school.
It's not fair to either school.
The innocent are punished for the sins of the guilty. And on both sides.
BUCKS-DUCKS TO PLAY ... Ohio State and Oregon have agreed to play a home-and-home series in 2020-2021, according to OSU AD Gene Smith.
"Oregon has developed into one of the premier football programs in the FBS," Smith said. "We are excited to add them to our future slate of games."
The two will play in Eugene in 2020 and Columbus in 2021.