Penn State Football: Worse Things Than Turning Away Talent For Franklin And Staff
All things considered Penn State could be in a much worse place.
Certainly the team's depth isn't what it should be. The offensive line will give fans heartburn and maybe the defense isn't overflowing with proven talent. But in the end that was the whole point of the NCAA sanctions.
Penn State wasn't going to play against teams with more scholarships for consecutive years and simply win games because it made everyone feel better. The sanctions were designed to knock the program down a few pegs and aside from a few unexpected victories it's hard to say the NCAA's mission was a failure.
For Penn State fans the hope comes from what will be there waiting for them in the future rather than what is currently in place. Penn State is going to lose games it "shouldn't" under "normal" circumstances and that's just the way it is. However, the state of the program coming out of the sanctions will be crucial to putting time and space between a struggling program and James Franklin's vision.
A lot has been made of the fact that Penn State has had to turn away recruits. That there simply isn't enough room for all the talent that wants to be in Happy Valley, and that means saying no to players who would otherwise have made State College their home.
“We have great momentum right now and there are a lot of people that want to come and we’ve already turned down some really good players,” Franklin said last month on the coaches caravan. “We’re going to have to do that in the future as well. I think that’s a really good sign. I think that’s what you want to do every year you want to have so many people that are attracted that you have tough decisions to make.
“I tell you this, I don’t like turning down good players. But, you’d rather be in that situation than be in the opposite that near Signing Day you’re scrambling to find guys to fill the amount of spots you have.”
“From the beginning when we offer guys, guys understand that it’s really on a first come, first served basis,” Franklin said. “Although people think if you get an offer that offer is there forever, say we offer 15 quarterbacks, we get one, well you can’t take all 15 of them so I think high school coaches really understand it. I don’t know necessarily all the time if the kids and parents understand, but when we offer kids we explain it to them and it’s in our offer -- it says first come, first served basis."
And that's really the key. The sanctions keep Penn State from taking lots of depth at any one position without neglecting another need, so Franklin is simply left hoping the players he does bring in can get the job done. It's not an ideal situation by any stretch, but at least good players are still in the equation. That alone is a victory for Penn State.
But consider this, in spite of no bowl games, in spite of being over-matched on the field, and in spite of not being able to win the conference title, Franklin has managed to pull together the second best recruiting class in the nation. No postseason, no conference title, lack of depth, and still No. 2 in the land.
So yes, times are tough for Penn State and the Nittany Lions will probably not have a season for the record books this year. But Franklin is turning away talent -- talent that will be waiting for Penn State on the other side once the sanctions are either lifted or have seen their sentence expire.
And things could be a lot worse than that.