Monday, July 23, 2012

recruiting board update and a surprise

So nothing earthshattering really happened over my break, which I can say with a straight face because I'm not a Penn State fan.  (More on that in a bit.)  We did have the expected Pitt announcement - sooner than I thought, but still totally expected.  So without a load of news to get off my plate, it's time for the first recruiting board update in a while.  Like a month, actually.  Here goes....

-- Added S Malcolm Cook to orange.  OK, so something did sorta happen while I was gone.  Cook was a camp offer this weekend and supposedly has eye-popping measurables.  He plays for FUMA, but the high-school team, not the post-grad one where non-qualifiers go.

-- Added TE Max Valles and DT Tyrell Chavis to orange.  If you feel like you've heard these names somewhere, congratulate yourself on having a long-term memory.  Chavis and Valles will be FUMA-shirting and entering with this class.  That's why there's been that one blank line at the top all year - I always leave a space for the inevitable prep candidates.

-- Moved DT Tevin Montgomery from green to blue.  Montgomery has a top five, but I think we're ahead of at least two of them, possibly more.  It helps we have his buddy Jack McDonald, who's not gonna let Montgomery go to Not UVA if he can help it.

-- Removed LB Doug Randolph from green.  I think that one's about over, and even if he doesn't pass Stanford admissions, we'll be full by the time that answer comes back - hopefully, because it'd mean two certain other very big instate commits.

-- Removed TE Kyle Chung, LB Reggie McGee, and DE Shaun McGee from yellow.  Chung went to VT, where he is a legacy, Reggie McGee to Houston, and Shaun McGee to UGA.

-- Removed DE Dajaun Drennon from red, who recently committed to UNC.

I should probably just go ahead and remove the whole red section and half the remaining yellow, since space is getting squeezy-tight, but we might as well keep this going until the class actually fills up.  I'll probably shut down the board when the recruitments of the blue and green section are resolved, though.

OK.  Penn State.  It's one of those constitutionally-mandated topics.

Unless you've been living under a boulder which is under a mountain, you know the NCAA finally got rid of the Punishment Hammer that it used to deal with Ohio State.....

...and upgraded to a different model for Penn State:

This new one is much faster, too.  Had the NCAA used its normal procedure, we wouldn't have found out about this stuff til next year at this time.  (This, by the way, has led to whining that the NCAA sabotaged its own credibility with the process it's gone through to get here.  Nonsense - how can anyone complain the NCAA moves too slowly and brings too light of a punishment to the table and then make this complaint too?  If they're going to change their obnoxiously slow ways, they have to start somewhere.)

I think the PSU punishment is fair.  I'd've been OK with anything that wasn't the death penalty or removal from the Big Ten.  There's a lot that depends on the Big Ten research money - hospitals and the like - that would've suffered.  And the death penalty would take away an important choice for the players in the program, who clearly did not sign up for this.  The way it is now, they can choose to stay or they can go.  I think that's fair.  To sum up the sanctions:

-- No bowl or B1GCG for four years, and no bowl money either.

-- $12 million per year for five years in fines, adding up to $60 million.  Altogether this is going to cost Penn State about $75 million, not counting lost donations.

-- Wins back to 1998 vacated.  1998.  That must be what they meant by "unprecedented."  It really rewrites the record books.  Yes, it means Bobby Bowden is your wins leader now and forevermore, and no I'm not happy about it because if there's one person obsessed with Bobby Bowden's legacy, it's Bobby Bowden, and he cheated and slimed his way to that record and threw a hissy fit when some of his own wins were vacated.  And he basically showed his ass on that one, complaining about the impact on the coaches and ignoring the players when that penalty was announced.  No, Bowden never sheltered a child rapist, but he had no problem at all looking the other way when he learned his players were cheating on tests and stealing shoes - I'm not actually convinced he wouldn't have done the same at Penn State.

-- Loss of ten scholarships this year and then twenty each the next three years.  In other words, PSU will operate at a limit of 75 this year (instead of 85) and then 65 in 2013, 2014, and 2015.  Basically they will be a I-AA team trying to compete in I-A.

-- Loss of ten scholarships from the yearly limit: 15 per year instead of 25, starting in 2013 and running until the 2016 recruiting class.  15 times four is 60 - they can't even get to their 65 limit that way.  It'll be even worse if they get slammed with transfers, because.....

-- Any PSU football player that wants to leave may do so without sitting out a season.  That's standard.  What's not standard is that tampering rules have been thrown out the window - teams can freely contact PSU players with only a requirement to notify the PSU coaches, and the PSU coaches can do nothing about it.  Plus, if you're already at the 85 limit this year?  No biggie!  You can take a player and go over your limit - you just have to give that schollie back next year.  (In other words, let's say you take a Penn State transfer and carry 86 players on scholarship this year.  You can only carry 84 scholarships in 2013, so you'd better manage your recruiting class.)  Any player currently on the roster may transfer at any time - he doesn't have to make up his mind for this year, he can use his Get Out Of Jail Free card now or two years from now.

So - impact on UVA?  Remains to be seen.  I don't think this year's game against them will look all that different, but it depends on who transfers.  Ask again in a month.  As for next year's game in Happy Valley, we'll be going against a severely decimated squad and if we're any good of a team, as we should be, it could be a romp.

Recruiting-wise, I think Penn State will still have some pull inside the state borders.  It's outside the state they're going to bomb out.  We probably recruit against Penn State more than against any other school except for VT.  Most good players we recruit out of Maryland, New Jersey, the Northeast, all have Penn State offers.  I count at least 23 players in the 2012 class that had offers from both us and PSU, three of which went to UVA and three of which went to PSU.  I could be missing some.  We will benefit for sure in not going against them.  As will a lot of surrounding schools - Rutgers, Maryland, OSU, Michigan, VT, BC, WVU, and, of course, new ACC members Cuse and Pitt.

As for their roster, could we poach it?  People have been pointing at Brent Wilkerson as a possibility.  I won't rule it out, but look - it's very unlikely we take any Penn State refugees.  Barring any further attrition - unlikely at this late stage - we're at 83 schollies this year.  That would make it appear we have room, but we have 12 departing seniors, 18 known incoming freshmen, and probably three or four more than that since certain players named Taquan Mizzell and Wyatt Teller have seats saved for them.  So it's gonna be hard to find room on the bus.  Yes, we could possibly go over the limit in 2013 to include a PSU refugee, but not a PSU refugee and the regular incoming freshmen.  Maybe there's a senior who wants to leave, but seniors are probably the least likely to do so.

I'll end with this suggestion: there's a chance, which is small but greater than zero, that Penn State is forced to make the decision to shut their program down for a year.  SMU, remember, only got a year's death sentence from the NCAA - the second year was their own idea, feeling it would've been wrong to send a team of totally untested freshmen out against the monsters of the old SWC.  If PSU can hang around the 65 limit, they'll probably field a team.  But nobody knows how many transfers there'll be, and they can't replenish their team very quickly with only 15 signings a year (and who knows if the waters are so poisoned they can't even reach that number?)  If they find themselves with maybe 55, or 50, or even 45 scholarship players, they might have a hard time justifying trying to compete against the Ohio States and Michigans and Wisconsins of the world.  Don't be completely surprised if this turns into the death penalty in a couple years anyway.  There's a reason they said this was worse than an NCAA-imposed shutdown.

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