Penn State football fans might have thought that the Joe Paterno era ended in November 2011, when he was fired amid the chaos of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

But it probably truly ended this week when PSU fans, who had been shielded by Mr. Paterno's long tenure from the economic realities of big-time college sports, were jolted by the resignation of Bill O'Brien after just two years as head coach.

The NFL's Houston Texans showed Mr. O'Brien the money and he was gone - commitments to young players, the institution and hundreds of thousands of fans overshadowed by seven or eight figures including mostly zeros.

That makes Mr. O'Brien neither better nor worse than anyone else in college sports who plays the leverage game. Fans who had hoped for better have no choice but to move on.

Now the problem probably will flow downhill to fans of some other institution whose coach will leave for State College.

Meanwhile, events at another university have highlighted the role of money in college sports.

A grand jury in Orange County, N.C., handed up an indictment against Julius Nyang'oro, a former professor in the University of North Carolina's African and Afro-American studies department.

The indictment contends that the professor defrauded the university by awarding credit to 19 students - 18 football players and one former player - for a course that existed only on paper.

Other media and UNC investigations found that Mr. Nyan'oro allegedly provided credit for dozens of dubious classes, and that about 50 percent of the students were football or basketball players.

Yet the NCAA, which imposed over-the-top sanctions on Penn State in the Sandusky case for its allegedly football-centric culture, has done nothing in the UNC case.

The NCAA receives little revenue from football. Almost all of its revenue comes from the "March Madness" basketball tournament, and UNC is a basketball power.

Apparently, the NCAA draws a line only if it doesn't affect its own bottom line.