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Northwestern Notebook 7/2

by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)

New Commit

Northwestern has its second commitment from a California running back in just a week, this time picking up three-star Warren Miles Long. Long is ranked the No. 88 running back in the country by Scout and rushed for 5-11, 195-pound back 1,134 yards and 19 touchdowns during his junior season in 2011.

He apparently fell in love with NU on his visit to campus in April, but waited until the summer to commit. Scout lists NU as his only offer, but he also received interest from Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. He's certainly not short on confidence for his time at NU.

“I definitely think we can win the Big Ten,” he told Scout.com. “If the rest of the team, the recruiting class, wants it as bad as I do, we’re going to win it.”

Facilities coming soon?

Northwestern has been promising new facilities for its athletic programs for years, but slow movement by the university has caused the plans to be pushed back. However, according to Chris Emma at Scout.com, the new facilities may be coming sooner rather than later. Here's an excerpt from the article:

Multiple sources tell PurpleWildcats.com that a $300 million lakefront, multi-sport athletic and recreational facility has been proposed and is pending the approval of the Northwestern board of trustees.

The facility would reportedly be built on the current Lakeside Field parking lot and would contain a turf football field, football offices and offices for other sports. According to Emma, it could be completed by the fall of 2014 if everything goes to plan (granted, things don't typically go to plan with NU athletic facilities).

Obviously, this would be a huge step for the program, which has struggled with recruiting disadvantages due to poor facilities. The current indoor practice field isn't even 100 yards and it's much less glamorous than the facilities at most Big Ten schools. A new facility on the shores of Lake Michigan could be a game-changer.

Those wanting upgrades to Welsh-Ryan Arena and Ryan Field will likely need to wait a while — possibly a decade or more — at this pace, but if the new practice facility ends up becoming a reality, NU will definitely be headed in the right direction and will certainly see the benefits in recruiting.

Mess at Penn State

Even after the end of the Jerry Sandusky trial, the mess has continued at Penn State, as CNN obtained emails from former PSU president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley, former VP (in charge of the police force) Gary Schultz and former coach Joe Paterno that suggested they covered up the evidence about Sandusky.

The group decided that it was best to deal with the matter internally and not contact authorities. They described that as the most "humane" way to act.

Perhaps the most disturbing email comes from Spanier, who wrote, "The only downside for us is if the message (to Sandusky) isn't 'heard' and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it."

Spanier was right, as he and his colleagues look to be in serious trouble. But now, people in the sports world have started to call for action from the NCAA, as this certainly looks like grounds for a "Lack of Institutional Control" penalty.

Some are calling for the Nittany Lions to get the death penalty. Some are calling for smaller penalties such as a TV or bowl ban. Some are calling for nothing to be done.

This is a complicated issue. Clearly, Spanier, Curley and Schultz deserve to be punished, but they aren't with the school anymore so they can't be punished by the NCAA. However, they'll be punished much worse by the courts. The question is whether the NCAA can do something drastic like the death penalty, a bowl ban or a TV ban to a program with virtually nobody of note left that did anything wrong.

Everyone has an opinion, but personally, I don't think the NCAA should do anything drastic to Penn State. This wasn't the fault of Bill O'Brien, the current coaching staff or any of the players — why should they suffer? Punishing the Penn State football program doesn't punish those responsible; they'll be punished in court. However, there's a chance the NCAA will see this as too big of an institutional problem to go unpunished, even if it means punishing those who are innocent of any wrongdoing — it had no problem doing that with USC, for instance.

In short, I think a moderate penalty would be okay — and certainly probation — but nothing so drastic as the death penalty that it could possibly damage the careers of so many current players who did nothing wrong.

Feel free to share your beliefs in the comments section below.