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July 23, 2012

Purdue still has tough road to Big Ten title

Morgan Burke hasn't given any thought to how the punishment levied on Penn State Monday could seemingly widen Purdue's path to the Big Ten championship game in 2012.

After the NCAA leveled staggering sanctions on fellow Leaders Division member Penn State, including a four-year bowl ban, the Big Ten followed by making the Nittany Lions ineligible to participate in the Big Ten title game for four years.

That leaves only the Boilermakers, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana eligible to advance to the title game in Indianapolis in 2012. Ohio State also is ineligible for the championship game and has a one-year bowl ban from previous sanctions.

But Burke isn't buying that Purdue has an easier road.

"A situation like this tends to bring out the best in people," he said. "I suspect you'll see the kids both in Columbus and State College, this will be a rallying cry for them. I don't think you need to sit there and feel sorry for those football teams. They'll be good, and we know that. We've got to take care of our own business.

"Even though those two schools may not go, they'll have a bearing on who does go for sure."

Purdue is hosting Penn State on Nov. 9, two weeks after playing at Ohio State. The Boilermakers have struggled historically against both programs, going 3-11-1 against the Nittany Lions and 14-38-2 against the Buckeyes.

And even though Penn State was forced to vacate all victories from 1998-2011, Purdue's record in that span won't change, Burke said.

"I go back to the young men who played on those teams. To me, they played the games," Burke said. "I don't know how they'll handle their record books, but I'm not going to pay any attention to that. ... I don't personally feel like, that certainly was a decision that the NCAA made (to vacate Penn State victories), but I don't want to be a beneficiary of something like that. I want to beat people on the field."

Among the other penalties leveled against Penn State's football program announced by NCAA president Mark Emmert: a $60 million sanction, a decrease in scholarships and a five-year probation period. Incoming freshmen and current players will be able to transfer to any school without having to sit out a season.

Burke said most schools already have their 85-scholarship allotment filled at this point. But NCAA's vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon told ESPN.com that there may be a way to adjust the transfer rules to allow schools to exceed the limit and then "perhaps … you could reduce it the following year."

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Monday that the league's presidents and chancellors are leaning toward allowing transfer within the conference with no penalties.

Coach Danny Hope wasn't made available for comment, but Burke said he doesn't envision "doing a wholesale review of the Penn State roster."

"It's kind of like the vulture flying over," he said.

Hope and the rest of the league's coaches, though, likely will be bombarded with questions later this week at the Big Ten media days in Chicago.

Burke also will head to Chicago and will participate in Big Ten meetings, he said. He said it'll take time for the Big Ten to recover from the scandal.

"I think there's lessons to be learned," he said. "I don't sit and judge. I'll let others do that. … But it all comes down to personal values. You can't be there 24-7, so you've really got to make sure you do the best you can to hire people.

"We don't have a win at any cost culture. That's not who we are. I'm not saying that's what they have. But I think our donors, and we talk about 25/85, they get excited. They want to win, but they want to do it the right way. I think that's a piece of who we are. That existed well before I came, and hopefully it'll exist well after I leave."




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