The Penn State football program received a severe set of sanctions on Monday, handed to them by NCAA president Mark Emmert following the Jerry Sandusky trial and the subsequent former FBI head Louis Freeh investigation and subsequent report. The penalties include a four year bowl ban, five years of probation, a 60-million dollar fine, a total scholarship limit of 65 the next four years (with a max of just 15 new per year) and vacating all wins dating back to 1998.
Taking those wins from 1998 to 2011 leaves Penn State out of the top ten in total wins, as well as dethroning Joe Paterno's top spot as the leader in all-time wins. In addition, players that are currently in the program can transfer to any school of their choice and play immediately this season. They can also do so at any point during their careers at Penn State without restriction.
Of course, these sanctions not only affect the current players and football program, but they also hinder the program's ability to recruit prospective student-athletes to Penn State. Already facing a couple of decommitments, the Nittany Lions will most likely have to prepare for transfers and more decommits over the next couple of weeks. With Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany stating that the B1G was leaning towards no penalty for players to transfer within the conference, speculation about who may leave and who will stay has risen.
Now the question from an Ohio State vantage stands as follows: What does this mean for Ohio State in regards to recruiting and beyond? It's an interesting topic, to say the least. Just last season, head coach Urban Meyer was able to nab 3 different Penn State commits, which included defensive back Armani Reeves, offensive lineman Joey O'Connor and linebacker Camren Williams.
So what now?
During this recruiting season, Ohio State has had an exceeding amount of success for itself and although that success isn't overlooked, there were some recruits that Meyer simply missed out on. Two recruits in particular stand out for Ohio State currently belong to the Nittany Lions, 5-star offensive lineman Dorian Johnson and 4-star tight end Adam Breneman.
There is no doubt that Urban and his staff would love the chance to grab Johnson, if the opportunity were to present itself. Which it did, Monday morning:
While Johnson is still committed to Penn State, it is clear he is re-opening his recruitment back up for the time being. Whether Urban will pursue him or not, there have been rumors that Ohio State still has mutual interest in recruiting Johnson. Despite this information, I still feel that Pittsburgh might be the team to beat out in this race if Johnson does decommit from Penn State.
Ohio State might be done with Adam Breneman at this point as well. After securing a commitment from tight end Marcus Baugh, Urban may have what he needs in this recruiting class at that position. If Breneman does show interest in the Buckeyes, I might be able to see Meyer adding Breneman in as a luxury at this point in case of not being able to sign other top recruits at the skill positions.
Do keep in mind that Ohio State doesn't have many more scholarships to give relative to the offers still oustanding in the class of 2013. The window for commitments is starting to draw closer to it's end.
There hasn't been any sort of indication that Breneman will decommit from Penn State to this point, but it wouldn't come as a surprise to many. Here's the Breneman family on Monday's sanctions:
We will not be making any comments regarding Penn State or Adam's recruitment at this time. Thank you. -Brian Breneman— Adam Breneman (@AdamBreneman87) July 23, 2012
Only time will tell what the Pennsylvania product will do in regards to the punishment the Nittany Lions received.
Defensive tackle Greg Webb (four star, New Jersey) jumped the gun decommitting from the Nittany Lions in favor of North Carolina over the weekend but at one time was also an Ohio State offer recipient. Defensive back Ross Douglas of Avon had also been on OSU's radar, but hadn't earned a committable or non-committable offer but remains firmly on the white boards of basically the entire Big Ten after decommitting just moments after the sanctions were revealed earlier today. DL/LB Garrett Sickels was also a former one time OSU target, but it didn't appear he had a committable offer should he reopen his process.
So while the '13 class for Ohio State may be largely unaffected by these events, the class of 2014 will most certainly feel the ramifications the most. One of the top prospects Ohio State's been targeting is dual-threat quarterback Drew Barker. Barker is a 4-star recruit who up until Monday, had Penn State as one of the schools highest on his list. Now the Nittany Lions are "no longer being considered according to Barker himself.
The aforementioned recruits/commits above are just the result of one day. The process will take quite a large amount of time to go through, which, particularly given the scholarship limits, predictably doesn't bode well for the Nittany Lions. If these recruits were that trigger-happy, the lasting effects may be worse as players will be forced to look at the situation of not being able to go to any bowl games, conference championships, etc. and make a longer determination.
Of course the situation also begs the question: are there any current Penn State players who could find their way to Columbus? This gets tricky given Ohio State's current roster limitations. While the NCAA's discussed possibly lifting roster restrictions for any team that accepts Penn State's transfers beyond the ordinary 85 limit, if they ultimately elect not to, should Ohio State take any PSU players on, that's one extra spot they'd have to be under the already imposed 3-under limitation for the remainder of that player's tenure in Columbus. Many Buckeye fans would probably love to add the likes of junior running back Silas Redd or junior linebacker Glenn Carson, but given the logistical constraints, it just seems improbable. Despite also having one of the best linebacking corps in the Big Ten, don't expect any of the mostly senior group to even consider spending their final year of eligibility somewhere else they also wouldn't be able to play in the post-season.
This is a devastating blow to Penn State and also leaves Ohio State, Michigan, and other regional powers more readily able to farm the areas that PSU has had much of their recruiting luck in in the past. You can rest assured, given his track record, Urban Meyer won't hesitate to attempt to make in-roads into the often talent rich confines of the Quaker State.