Penn State Players, Fair to Recruit?

By Steve Kish

Now that the smoke has cleared and everyone knows where Penn State
stands now comes the question. Should Big Ten schools recruit Penn
State players? This isn’t against any rule brought down by the NCAA,
but does it break the law of morals?

Should Ohio State, Michigan, or Nebraska go and swoop in and pluck
players off of Penn State’s roster. Would they want Penn State or
other Big Ten rivals doing the same to them, if in a similar
situation. Wisconsin head coach Brett Beilman has already clearly
stated that he will not recruit Penn State players, stating he won’t
cross that line of coaching brotherhood. Ohio State head coach Urban
Meyer said he had a “problem” recruiting Penn State players, but
didn’t clearly rule it out. There are many advantages to recruiting
Penn State players and having them join your team if you are a member
of the Big Ten conference. On the other side of this question there is
how the coach and university will be perceived by the media and fans
for what some might see as taking advantage of the situation.

The NCAA did put in the stipulation that Penn State players can
transfer without the normal one year waiting period. In doing so they
have created a chaotic atmosphere. Some players are reported already
have 50 plus scholarship offers. Bill O’Brien, poor Bill O’Brien is in
the eye of this storm. He is receiving calls from coaches telling him
they are going to talk to players a,b, and c. Then there are the
coaches that are just faxing the lists of players they are going talk
to, which is all the NCAA is requiring them to do. Can you imagine,
he is getting these calls, reading these faxes. Then he has to go to
these players , try to sell them on Penn State again. Sell them on
team, brotherhood, commitment, loyalty. These are truly the most
powerful words O’Brien has when talking to one of his players. Telling
them to stay prove that the past is the past, that they can set the
tone for the future of Penn State football.O’Brien has had to play
politician a lot this week, he has done a great job so far, and Penn
State has already rewarded him with four year extension through 2020.

Co-Big Ten head coaches have to see blood, especially those in the
Leaders division with Penn State. Ohio State and Wisconsin could most
likely go in and decimate Penn State’s program for years after the
four year ban. If they could go in and talk Penn State’s top
sophomores, red shirt freshmen, and incoming recruits to come to their
programs. Now Wisconsin has said they won’t recruit, and Ohio State
seems on the fence about doing it, but imagine the damage they could
do. Wisconsin can just go back to last year and talk about what
Russell Wilson did for them, and they could have that same impact.
Ohio State’s big sell? They are Ohio State, possibly the most talked
about program in all of college football. The games you play in, the
opponents you face, Urban as your coach. Yes they have their own
sanctions but the bowl ban is for just this year.

Let us look at the clear advantages if you are a Big Ten coach
recruiting Penn State players, and recruits. First you have the
ability to put Penn State in position of being years after the
sanctions expire to still be rebuilding the program. Stated before
taking the top sophomores, red shirt freshmen, and incoming recruits
empties Penn State’s depth and takes the youth of the program away.
Replacing these players will take years, as O’Brien is going to have a
very hard time recruiting in the next two or three years. As the years
past O’Brien and his staff will be able to recruit players on being
the class that restores the program to glory, to being able to play in
bowl games, the Big Ten Championship game, and possibly the new Final
Four. Even with that being the upside for O’Brien in the upcoming
years, it still will put Penn State at at least six years to fully be
back to being Penn State. Second getting Penn State players will be an
inside advantage. They might not fully know the new systems or
schemes, but they do know their teammates. They can point out their
weaknesses and strengths. As for the system and schemes they will have
knowledge of some of them. This is an ultimate advantage in a close
game. Thirdly, you get a second chance on the player you tried to
recruit and lost out to Penn State in the process. Possibly bringing
the “hometown” hero back to the area. These upsides are extremely
intriguing but how much do morals play into this chaos.

Imagine on November 10th, when Penn State travels to Nebraska they
are down by 4 with 3 minutes left in the game and are driving. Lets
say Nebraska has recruited a few offensive and defensive players from
Penn State. These players can help the coaches with formations, and
shifts, and influence Nebraska’s calls and audibles on this drive.
It’s fourth down, last gasp for Penn State and Nebraska sees Penn
State shift, Nebraska may, lets make this clear, may know what Penn
State wants to do out of this shift. The ball is hiked and Nebraska
stops Penn State’s drive. What will be written, will it be Penn State
played one hell of a game on the road, or will it be Nebraska escaped
thanks to the help of the Penn State transfers. This will be a hotly
talked about subject if mass exodus happens at Penn State to fellow
Big Ten programs. Some will call the teams cheaters for having former
Penn State players on it. Others will say it was against an unwritten
code. There will most likely be a lot back and forth on this subject,
do Universities and head coaches want to be brought into that
conversation.

During this chaos fellow Big Ten coaches must weigh risk versus
reward in recruiting at Penn State. The upside is there, it is clearly
there, adding great players, inflicting more damage on Penn State’s
program, possible gameday knowledge. Yet the negative spotlight that
may be spun on the coaches and programs that recruit Penn State
players may very well be the Jeremy Lin type story of this upcoming
college football season. Penn State will be talked about day in and
day out once the season starts. The players the transfer and the
coaches that swooped in like vultures sensing death will be criticized
and questioned. So the question still stands, should Big Ten coaches
recruit at Penn State?

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