Anyone trying to figure out what Gov. Corbett was up to this week in filing a suit against the NCAA and the sanctions it imposed on Penn State should go to Netflix and rent the 1957 movie The Three Faces of Eve.
It stars Joanne Woodward in an Oscar-winning role as a women suffering from multiple personality disorder. Meek housewife one moment, vixen and vamp the next, poor Eve lapses from one personality to another with such frequency it is enough to drive her crazy. And it does.
Eve had three personalities.
When it comes to
One is Prosecutor Tom.
As Attorney General, he initiated the investigation into sex crimes that
led to the November 2011 indictment of former Penn State Defensive Coach Jerry
Sandusky and two
Two is Penn State Trustee Tom. After the bombshell of the indictment dropped and the NCAA felt moved to act, it gave Penn State a two-option play: either accept sanctions, including a $60 million fine, or face the "death penalty" -- a total ban from participation in collegiate football for five years.
Corbett urged his fellow trustees to accept the deal. It was a recognition that what happened at
Three is Penn State Defender Tom. This Tom took the podium this week to announce that the state was suing the NCAA in federal court, alleging it overstepped its bounds and violated its own procedures in imposing penalties on the school.
The NCAA forced the university to endure "harsh, unjustified and unprecedented punishments" that brought harm to innocent students, athletes and others, including the state of Pennsylvania and communities in Central Pennsylvania dependent on the business generated by the Penn State "brand," as the suit puts it.
So, you may ask, how can Tom Corbett initiate the investigation that led to the
It defies logic. But, then why not? What's logic among friends?
To understand it, you have to look at the fourth Tom Corbett. Tom the politician. He is dominating all the other Toms at this point.
Why? Political Tom is under threat. His poll numbers are sagging. His chances of winning re-election in 2014 are weak. Political Tom understands the geopolitics of
As of now, Corbett is weak in the
This means he must, must, must win in central
But, Prosecutor Tom and Trustee Tom have inflicted serious damage on Political Tom in this area of the state.
I am not a big fan of Tom Corbett, to put it mildly, but I do think he handled the
In short, this Republican governor's base is pissed at him.
He cannot go into 2014 with them pissed. He has to do something to ameliorate this liability. Hence, the NCAA suit.
Ostensibly, this is an antitrust case, but if you read the suit it dwells little on that issue. In fact, there is little legalese in it. It is more of a speech, a polemic against the NCAA, which says, in so many words, that (a) the NCAA is a craven tool of "sports as a money-maker" (stipulated); the NCAA is hypocritical (stipulated); the NCAA was not seeking justice. It was seeking to take a major force within Division I and kneecap it so other Division I schools could make more money at
It's hard to overturn what amounts to a consent degree between a university with a football program and the governing body of collegiate sports.
As weak as it is legally, though, it may serve its purpose, which is to save all the Toms so they can remain as Governor Tom.
-- Tom Ferrick