July 25, 2012

In the first 24 hours or so after the NCAA announced the sanctions on Penn State, there was a feeding frenzy expected for Penn State football players who had the freedom to transfer without sitting a year. Some top targets are almost viewed as rentals — juniors and seniors.

No surprise that PSU Coach Bill O’Brien is putting on a brave front, and talking of keeping the players together. It’s not so easy with the present recruiting class, as you would expect. But so far it seems to be working with plenty of present players saying they are not leaving.

Starting quarterback Matt McGloin, starting cornerbacks Stephon Morris and Adrian Amos, running back Bill Belton and wide receiver Allen Robinson all said they are staying at Penn State through social media.

Offensive tackle Mike Farrell, a Shady Side Academy graduate, and Fox Chapel product Miles Dieffenbach each told the Tribune-Review that they will remain at Penn State.

This shouldn’t be a big surprise. It also shouldn’t stop coaches at other schools from staying in touch with these players. This is a year-long courtship. Not a two week window.

Think about this. The sanctions have just been handed down. There is less than 2 weeks before training camp opens. You really think a lot of kids are going to be comfortable and able to easily make a life-changing decision to change schools this soon. After spending most of the past 6-11 months with an “us-versus-them” mentality about the whole Penn State scandal? After getting to know the new coaching staff for the past 7 months? There is to be a huge fallout right away?  They are going to up-and-go somewhere else this close to the start?

Most won’t go anywhere this year. And they don’t have to. Per the NCAA on Penn State players freedom:

Penn State football student-athletes can decide to transfer from now until the 2013 season (before participating in preseason practice with Penn State) and play immediately at the new school.

This is not a 2-week window to decided their entire future to stay or go. That would be insane and unfair. Emotions are too strong right now. Ties and loyalties still in place. They have this whole season to play at Penn State if they wish. And then they can re-evaluate what they want to do after their season ends on November 24. They will still be able to transfer without penalty for 2013.

They have a chance to play for Bill O’Brien. They can find out if he’s yet another pro coach in the college game along the lines of Weis, Wannstedt, Gailey, Sherman, Groh, etc. Guys that have the NFL pedigree but coach to a 7-5 mean in college. Find out for themselves if their campus life will be enough, when they know that the on-the-field stuff won’t get easier.

What happens after this season when a top assistant and recruiter like Larry Johnson, Sr. gets a slew of new offers. Yes, he’s a PSU alum, but will he sacrifice his own ambition for it?

That’s why I expect (hope) that Coach Chryst won’t stop staying touch with Diffenbach, Belton, Eugene Lewis and others. This will be playing out over the next 10-12 months, not just a week.

The hardest part for the Penn State coaches will be keeping the players after this season. Not keeping them before it.

There hasn’t been much in the local papers and news about how well Ray Graham’s recovery has been. He says he going to be back and I assume that means that he’s doing fairly well. It’s still only July and even if he isn’t completely up to speed for training camp, that doesn’t mean that he can’t have a good season. I certainly hope to see him play this year. I haven’t seen a running back with ability make the jump cut, they way Ray Graham does since Barry Sanders retired. He’s an amazing talent. Imagine him in an offence built for the runing game, with a good fullback in front of him.

Comment by Justinian 07.26.12 @ 8:19 am

When does practice begin for PITT? Can’t wait to hear news about the team’s performance.

I want Pitt to be consistent this year and well coached. No unnecessary timeouts, no delay of game penalties, etc. That would be refreshing. It would be a sign of stability that we need.

Comment by A 07.26.12 @ 8:39 am

@ J Bizzle, you are using some pretty fuzzy math IMO. I agree that this season will be the least affected by the scantions. They might even promote enough of an “us against the world” attitude to make it a great season for penn state, but alas no post season play or championships allowed, oh well.

Now the hurt begins in 2013. only 15 incoming scholarships and the total comes down to 65 for the team. This goes on for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Now throw on top of that, guys that don’t pan out, injuries, academic issues, etc. and all of a sudden you can’t field a team with ANY depth, even IF the first string remains good.

Now once things start going south, it doesn’t just turn around in a year. penn state will need two or three GREAT recruiting classes to restock and that won’t happen until at least the 2017 incoming class. So 2017, 2018 and probably 2019 to really get back on their feet, realistically, in a best case scenario.

So I see things looking bad to awful for the nitters from about 2014 until 2020, more like seven seasons. Of course, everybody has an opinion, this is just mine. Time will tell.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.26.12 @ 8:46 am

Justinian & Dr. Tom – The DR hit it on the head. This is very severe for PSU for a number of years.

There truly is no comparison to either USC or OSU, and in some ways SMU.

“There is a major difference. USC was able to stock up on recruits and FR those first two years because they didn’t have any roster cap on scholarships at all and were able to field 85 during their whole punishment period.

USC cut loose 5th year seniors and SR & JRs players who hadn’t been productive and loaded up before the annual scholarship limit kicked in. They literally used the “Scholarships are for one year” stance and screwed some players.

This is what is really going to affect PSU. It isn’t losing 10 scholarships a year that is the hammer, it is being capped at 65 for a full four years. That means they can’t allow any 5th year seniors to stay on basically, at least not if the want to have any quality following that guy.

Plus the NCAA limited PSU to 15 for this initial (2103) recruiting season – again, hadn’t been done before and kills any chance of PSU stocking up like USC did.

What this also does is mean that PSU can’t afford to miss on any recruits because the scholarship cap severely limits the depth the team can field in a few years. All thirty of their recruits for 2013 and 2014 have to be potential starters in 2016/17 if they want to win games at all. They can’t afford to miss on anyone.

This is why all the pundits are saying this cripples the PSU program for a good length of time. Even after the 65 limit goes back up to 85 at the beginning of the 2018 season it will take a couple years to get back up to 85 plus (25 annual limit + players graduating) those 20 scholarships that will be made up will all be underclassmen who probably won’t contribute for a few years.

These scholarship limits puts PSU in a bad place for seven years at least after this season because they may well be forced to play walk-ons during that time period.

So PSU finds itself in a position that no other team since SMU has been in and even SMU didn’t have a scholarship cap. To compare USC’s punishment to PSU’s isn’t valid once you factor all the above in.

This is why I say they didn’t get off easy.

Everyone looks at the Death Penalty but if the NCAA gave them the death penalty for one year and didn’t drastically reduce the scholarship limits like they did now – that would be a lot better for PSU football in the long run.

Dr. Tom hit the point that is a key here – with those 65 scholarships on the roster limits PSU may well be forced to play walk ons.

In all probability, and as Chas said, this stark reality is going to hit the existing players, including the class of 2013, very hard after this season. Once the crunch the numbers and start talking to other coaches, parents, etc they are going to realize that not only are they banned from bowls – they will suck so badly they probably won’t go to bowls for a few years after the ban is lifted.

All the players who are pledging their love now and the recruits who are saying “after a redshirt year I’ll have two years of bowls are ill-informed.

First off O’Brien will not have the luxury of redshirting anyone after this season. Secondly, every single kid they recruit will HAVE to be top shelf, which they won’t, again, when the reality kicks in and every coach in the US is going to be legitimately using negative recruiting against PSU.

Comment by Reed 07.26.12 @ 8:48 am

Reed, I am in agreement with everything you’ve said. I just was conveying an opinion I heard by an ESPN commentator. Hey we lived through the Paul Hacket tenure and years following at Pitt. So I fully relize how tough it is to compete without the necessary talent on the field. Acutally during those years I thought the Pitt football program was irrevocably lost. Walt Harris did an amazing job reserecting the program.
Penn State is going to have a long hard road to rebuild their program. A one year death penalty wouldn’t have been as bad. However, the reports out of Penn State are that the alternative was a four year death penalty, which have much much worse.

Comment by Justinian 07.26.12 @ 9:24 am

I don’t see Paul Chryst going after any of their guys. However I fully expect him going after and getting a lot more of the Pennsylania players in what was formerly Penn State territory. That should play out over the next few years and will probably pick up as their program declines. I think Chryst comes accross as honest and sincere and I think that appeals to a lot of the players and their parents.

Comment by Justinian 07.26.12 @ 9:52 am

I agree I told a few people I would be surprised if any current players came to Pitt. Not sure if any recruits will flip to Pitt but either way this is no reflection on Chryst. Call it taking the High Road or being classy I don’t think we win anything grabbing any PSU players.

Not sure why people are saying why would players stay either. They get a good education and I am sure they have made some good friends with their teammates.


Comment by giveitarest 07.26.12 @ 9:58 am

Just being a “devil’s advocate” here, but what protections does the NCAA provide from a “4* walk-on” signing an “education promissary note” with some wealthy alumni (either in the form of paying off student loans, or worse becoming the student lender) ?

Then the excuse will be… “But I was only interested in the great education that was ‘only’ available at PSU.”

Comment by CompLit 07.26.12 @ 10:04 am

I think the call it.. “Unintended Consequences”

Comment by CompLit 07.26.12 @ 10:05 am

I also wonder how many good players would qualify for significant financial aid? Obviously many of the football players that they get to go there are typically from middle class suburbia and would have difficulty in obtaining a large aid package, but if they’ve got an excellent player from an urban area from a low income family, seems to me that they could get a pretty decent aid package based on financial need. Or am I missing something there?

Comment by Pitt Is It!!! 07.26.12 @ 11:07 am


Nebraska used to do this..sort of. Each county in Nebraska used to offer a local “scholarship” of their own, outside the athletic department. It went to big guys suitable for OL play.
That type of maneuver is now illegal.
But, if a 4 star player wants to skip a scholarship and pay his own way, and legitimately does so, then there should not be anything to prevent it.

Comment by sfpitt 07.26.12 @ 11:08 am

But being on probation for 5 years, I’m sure the NCAA will be watching them like a hawk.

I’ll be interested to see how many of their current 2013 recruits actually sign on the dotted line next year. They’ve already got a couple decommits and the NCAA news just broke the week.

Comment by Pitt Is It!!! 07.26.12 @ 11:09 am

I wonder of the NCAA will exert any pressure (either public or private) to prevent PSU attempting to get around the bowl ban (to some degree) by getting a 13th game through scheduling Hawaii on the road. That would give them a 13th game and a nice trip.

IMHO, it would make the NCAA look pretty foolish if PSU made some such deal to play Hawaii in Hawaii annually (or even every other year). This would be especially true if it involved PSU paying Hawaii to buy out the contract of another (or other) opponent(s) and/or paying Hawaii’s cost to travel to State College to play a PSU home game or two as part of a package deal.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 12:32 pm

@pitt1972, whey would you care if they went to Hawaii? The players are already being penalized. A game in Hawaii doesn’t bring the school bowl type revenue. The NCAA is already getting the pound of flesh they are demanding from the program. It isn’t like it’s going to be a major enticement to get players to come there considering the schollie limits. I could give a crap if they went to Hawaii. So if Matt McGloin and all his teammates go to a 13th game in Hawaii, you feel this is an issue? Don’t see how this would make the NCAA look foolish, if it were to happen.

Comment by Pitt Is It!!! 07.26.12 @ 1:09 pm

Maybe Hawaii can negotiate a 2 year home for 1 year away deal. Oh that’s right somebody else already thought of that. Then PSU has to pay travel twice also.

Comment by Jim 07.26.12 @ 1:22 pm

@Pitt is It–If they get the Hawaii game(s), IMO they are thumbing their nose to a degree at the NCAA and helping to ensure that their cultish culture remains unaffected by losing football seasons.

True, it won’t bring in more revenue and probably would cost them more in the near term. But, what it has the potential to do is give the PSU coach
a strong selling point to recruits that really could go a long long way toward overcoming the negative of the bowl ban.

O’Brien’s recruiting line becomes–“So what if we don’t get a post-season bowl game. We still get that extra game–you get a 13th game if you play Hawaii per NCAA rules–and you will get (at least twice in your career) to travel out to the Islands which is an even nicer trip than going to some bowl game in the mainland U.S.”

This would certainly help PSU greatly to ensure that each year’s 15 ships all go to 4-5 star recruits which keeps even a depleted roster of 65 loaded with quality and potentially highly competitive. That way, the 10 ships per year loss becomes close to inconsequential in its negative impact on the PSU program.

I am sure that’s what O’Brien and company are thinking and hoping to be able to sell. And, IMHO, it just might work if the NCAA lets them get away with that approach and the PSU administration and BOT doesn’t balk at the added costs involved with trips to Hawaii.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 2:17 pm

Where do you guys come up with this stuff? In the first place, if you look at the routine that most competing schools have when playing against Hawaii, it is more of a penalty than an benefit to do a road game to Hawaii, especially traveling from the East Coast.

They show up a day before the game and return home the day after. It uses up time from Thursday until the following Monday just to get the logistics taken care of for a Saturday game. Throw in the jet lag of being six hours off your regular schedule sitting on a plane for 8 to 10 hours and the perks don’t look so good all of a sudden. In the second place, with penn state being on probation, they aren’t going to make waves preparing a week and a half vacation out of such a deal just because of the obvious implications, to try to make it into a fun trip for the team.

At this point, they should be happy that they can continue playing football ANYWHERE and be satisfied that they get to go to Indiana or Purdue and get to enjoy that good midwestern hospitality of those parts, nough said.

Comment by Dr. Tom 07.26.12 @ 2:57 pm

I’m sure PSU isn’t going to be spending any extra $$ on the football team having a vacation when $60M is being dinged out of the Athletic department funds.

With the full time compliance officer there for the next five years PSU would be crazy to try to get away with anything untoward.

Comment by Reed 07.26.12 @ 3:38 pm

Dan – Regarding ND coming to the ACC for all sports: NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

ND isn’t joining the ACC or any other conference for football. They would never, ever let the non-revenue sports impact football in any way.

And yes, it is all about the money and control.

Notre Dame, in spite of their lack of success on the field, is still a major draw both in person and on TV. Our own beloved Heinz Field is a perfect example. It sells out for one game every two years, the ND game. ND sells out stadiums where ever they go. This year they’re going to sell out in Dublin (Ireland not Ohio), Norman OK, Chicago, East Lansing, Boston and LA. The influential ($$$) people at ND love this (inter) national schedule. This schedule is also very attractive on TV. Their TV ratings are still very good. And their contract with NBC is huge. Love ’em or hate ’em, people watch. And that brings in the money.

They have what everyone is college football is dying for, total control and big dollars. Why in the world would they want to give that up to join a conference?

To help their women’s lacrosse team? Please.

Joining a conference for football would require pretty major schedule changes (none for the better, remember they play who they want, when they want, where they want). It would also require them to share some of their TV money.

The BCS (and NCAA) seem all too willing to bend over backwards to include ND football in the bowl and playoff systems.

I just don’t see a scenario where joining a conference would bring them more money. And worse it would require them to give up some freedom and autonomy. I see both as being antithetical to their culture.

Comment by boubacar aw 07.26.12 @ 4:30 pm

Dr. Tom, Reed et al. The Hawaii thing isn’t totally a figment of my imagination. O’Brien has actually publicly mentioned they are trying to schedule a game at Hawaii.

I suppose if they were to do the Hawaii thing just before a bye week they could stay an extra day or two after to make it “their bowl game” substitute.

I do hope you are right that the Admin etc. won’t let them spend the money to do it. I am not so certain, though.

PSU might view it as a long term investment to make it easier to stay as competitive as possible and return faster after the sanctions end.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 5:27 pm

boubacar–were you at Heinz for the last ND game? I was and it was far from a sellout. I had no trouble getting good single game seats for the game and there were plenty of empty yellow seats everywhere. That being said, your more generic point still holds some validity although ND’s “subway alumni” loyal following has been headed downhill for decades now.

Comment by pitt1972 07.26.12 @ 5:34 pm

For my money, I’d never let ND attach itself to the ACC for everything but football, like the parasite they were to the BE. Instead, I’d offer to let them keep their TV money deal all to themselves but make them join for all sports. That means that they would have to share and share alike their bowl revenues and ACC schools get a guaranteed full home stadium every time they play ND at home. If you let them be a parasite, they keep their TV deal money anyway, so this solution doesn’t make a difference to ND or the ACC as compared to that stupid parasite idea.
The trade off is relatively small, ND gets the benefit of ACC academic status, participation in non-football sports with a power conference in many sports, and gets to keep all their NBC money. In exchange, the ACC avoids getting used by ND like a cheap whore.

Comment by Taxing Matters 07.26.12 @ 6:20 pm

I just read the Sports Illustrated, “We Were Penn State” and in the article it states:

“In 2001, Curley, Spanier, and Schultz seemed preparedother allegantion-only to have Joe Paterno apparently talk Curley out of it.”

Then the article goes on to say:

In 04, on the heels of two straight losing seasons, Spa

Comment by Justinian 07.26.12 @ 6:25 pm

Taxing Matters: Your summary of the position the ACC should take regarding ND makes great sense. Furthermore,if the ACC should let itself be used by ND lets do it like an expensive (what was that word you used?). If necessary we (the ACC) can readily live without them.

Comment by opfim 07.26.12 @ 6:45 pm

opfim: Sorry for the indelicate language, but thanks for the shout out. Also agree with you, happy to see ND never be part of the ACC, and that has to be Swarford’s attitude to avoid that thing I described above.

Comment by Taxing Matters 07.26.12 @ 6:53 pm

I did go to Heinz for that ND game and the previous couple. I was a season ticket holder. while that game may not have technically been a sell out it was close and by far the biggest crowd of the year. Announced attendance of 65k. It was probably 60/40 Pitt fans. Kind of sad.

link to

Hey – there is a Boubacar Moungoro in the Aau game on EsPN.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 07.26.12 @ 7:23 pm

Just to be clear, the ACC should NOT take ND as a member for everything but football. They should stay right where they are in what’s left of the Big Least.

But I still have yet to hear a compelling reason why ND would want to join for football, even if they get to keep their NBC deal. What do they get?

The academics argument is complete nonsense. ND is higher ranked academically than all but one ACC school, Duke. Bowl money that they would split with other ACC schools? They already get to keep their own.

Then look at the schedule. Which games would they give up to play 5 more ACC games? Michigan? Michigan State? Navy? Purdue (ok maybe purdue), USC? This year they’re already playing Pitt, BC, and Miami. Could they play them every year?

Bottom line: ND does not want to be tied to a football conference. The other sports don’t matter.

It is ridiculous that we’re even talking about this (and that I am taking ND’s side) ’cause it ain’t happening.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 07.26.12 @ 7:57 pm

Forgot about Wake Forest. Nd is playing them this year too.

I would hate to see Pitt lose ND as an annual game. Tradition is one of the best things about college football. ND Pitt is rich in tradition. They’re pretty much the last traditional rival we have.

Comment by Boubacar Aw 07.26.12 @ 8:10 pm

Taxing matters.
The word you used is not vulgar. It is a noun. From this point forward, the plural form of that noun is the epilogue to the chant WE ARE.

Comment by SFPitt 07.26.12 @ 8:17 pm

To be a little more clear, ND does not want to go to the Big10 because they want to remain the big fish. The ACC provides that for them. Don’t think that ND is the draw that they were 15 years ago because they are not. They are perilously close to losing relevancy and power, like PSU will.

Folks that I have spoken to, indicate that ND feels their fit is with the ACC because they think they can win the conference in football and basketball. They say out loud academically as well, but make no mistake, it’s about sports. The ACC needs to accept them as a full sport member or no member. Everyone needs to remember that when ND went on their own, they had NBC wrapped up and there wasn’t alot of football watching competition. With all the conference networks and the other big networks televising games, the ND mystique took a big hit. For those reaons, I see an ND move in the next 3-5 years.

Comment by dhuffdaddy 07.26.12 @ 8:54 pm

Pitt1972 – I read that about O’Brien also but think it is a foolish decision in two ways. First PSU may well get beaten by a Hawai’i team when travelling over there. The Rainbow Warriors have made a name by upsetting teams that have had to fly and deal with the time difference. I wouldn’t think they could schedule Hawai’i before 2015 or so and they will probably suck by then anyway.

Secondly – there will be a NCAA “Compliance Officer” at PSU for the next five years. I think PSU would be foolish to even hint at giving their players anything more than the bare minimum that any other students get. Th ‘stay and extra two days’ would be, in effect, giving them a vacation and benefits that other PSU students don’t receive.

That is why school’s football teams fly in a day before and leave as soon as possible for away games. They don’t hang around unless travel is impossible earlier.

Comment by Reed 07.27.12 @ 8:47 am

Reed–Hope you are correct.

Comment by pitt1972 07.27.12 @ 9:54 am

@boubacar, I agree about their football independence.

Let’s face it, they are looking out for themselves, like everyone else.

What would ND really, really like?????

They would love for their football to be independent, and their olympic sports in the ACC.

That would be ideal.

I, personally, want nothing to do with that what so ever.

So, maybe we can’t force them in for everything. Agreed. Don’t let them in for partial membership either. We’ve all seen how that works.

My point really is, they aren’t going to the Big 10 or the Big 12 either.

Swofford, stand your ground. It doesn’t work, and they aren’t goin’ anywhere else.

Even if for some crazy chance they would, good riddance, we don’t need Big East-Notre Dame 2.0

Comment by Dan 07.29.12 @ 12:16 am

Which leads back to the question of what is going to happen.

Because, the other thing that is not going to happen, is Notre Dame leaving their olympic sports out to dry in the Big East.

Maybe for a year or two, but they ain’t stayin’ there either.

Actually, I do disagree. The other sports do matter, to a whole lot of people.

Yes, football is money. They have a lot of pride in their olympic sports, as does the ACC, and does Pitt.

Compared to football, no, of course not. But they aren’t sending their tennis team to Lubbock, and they’re not keeping their baseball team in the Big East.

So, what happens???

Comment by Dan 07.29.12 @ 12:23 am

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