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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

When a suspension isn't really a suspension

A few times a week during the college football offseason, you'll see a story where a team has suspended a player for any number of reasons -- academics, off-field issues, etc.

This offseason, Penn State and Joe Paterno may be leading the NCAA in dishing out offseason punishments.

On Tuesday, Paterno suspended tight end Andrew Quarless for an unspecified violation of team rules. That makes SIX Nittany Lions that have been suspended since Jan. 25.

Defensive tackles Chris Baker and Phil Taylor; linebacker Navorro Bowman; defensive back Knowledge Timmons; and wide receiver Christ Bell are the others who have been temporarily removed from the team.

According to the Associated Press, Baker, Taylor, and Bowman and Timmons all are facing charges stemming from an Oct. 7 on-campus incident. Bell has not been charged in the incident, though his name was in the criminal complaint filed by police. The Penn State statement announcing Taylor's and Bell's suspensions in early February said only that they were suspended "until their academic situation improves and any off-the-field issues are behind them."

Penn State hasn't begun spring practices, so what exactly have the players been suspended from? Lifting weights? Team meetings?

If they miss spring practice, the only consequence is that the players will fall deeper on the depth chart when fall practice begins. And maybe they'll be forced to miss the season opener against that NCAA football power Coastal Carolina.

But by mid-September, the players will be reinstated and all will be well in Happy Valley.

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