What Penn State Sanctions Mean For Ohio State & Big Ten

I tried to have a normal lunch today, but there was no way to do it. After three minutes of banter with a friend he inevitably asked me, “So what do you think about the Penn State situation?”

Damn. I really thought I would be able to just eat a sandwich and move on with my day. No such luck. I instead forced myself to probe my feeble brain for what I thought of the whole thing, something I had avoided until then. And here’s what came to my mind:

  1. Bobby Bowden just backed his way back into the record books.
  2. A lot of kids who had nothing to do with the whole situation have effectively had their accomplishments wiped clean (not that I think this matters much, everyone still remembers the Fab Five)
  3. Recruiting just got a lot easier for east coast teams and Big Ten foes, in particular Ohio State
  4. Prepare for the transfer exodus
The four year bowl ban effectively means every single player on the Penn State roster can transfer and play immediately. For the past 24 hours you can bet every kid on the roster has started checking the depth chart at every school they’d consider playing at (if they hadn’t already had that on the books weeks ago).
Pennsylvania Turnpike

Pennsylvania Turnpike (Photo credit: Rhys Asplundh)

So who stands to benefit the most? Well, in the short term it’s a crap shoot. Top level players, should they choose to jump ship, just need to identify a program that could best benefit from their services and make a phone call. As an example, Michigan looks to be an offensive powerhouse this year but has major holes on the defensive line. The addition of a stout D lineman like Jordan Hill could be a huge difference maker for the Wolverines. How this plays out, though, is anyone’s guess. Considering the relative weakness of the Big East and the ACC, I wouldn’t be surprised if middling players fled for starting opportunities at nearby schools like Pittsburgh and Syracuse, where playing time should be plentiful and coaching staffs would likely welcome former two and three star prospects to add depth. Another winner could be the MAC, which is also relatively close in proximity and most teams would welcome Big Ten talent with open arms.

Where things get more interesting is once the next recruiting cycle rolls around. The state of Pennsylvania should open up considerably, and one of the nation’s football hotbeds will suddenly be open season for teams that historically haven’t succeeded there. You can almost see Urban Meyer licking his lips over this one. Meyer’s recruiting chops are well known, and Ohio State has always done relatively well in Pennsylvania, so this could turn into a major recruiting boom for the already well stocked Buckeyes. Michigan has also traditionally pulled talent out of Pennsylvania, and this should serve Brady Hoke and company well, too.

The trickle down of talent should also benefit the aforementioned ACC and Big East teams, and national contenders from outside the region should also spend more resources in Pennsylvania as well. Seeing a few more top prospects leaving for the SEC and Big 12 is a much higher likelihood than it’s been in the past. Oddly, this may benefit Division IAA teams and Division II teams as well, as local talent that would have otherwise eaten up a final scholarship at regional teams like Temple and Buffalo will likely get pushed down to accept starring roles at schools like Youngstown State, California (Pa.) and the like.

While the whole situation is indeed tragic, its effects on the Big Ten and national football landscape over the next decade could be profound.

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