last time: irrelevant. this time: apt metaphor
The bomb. Mark Emmert dropped it, and dropped it with unprecedented speed. The actual penalties are harsh but along the same lines as they usually are: bowl bans, scholarship reductions, and fines. Penn State's ban is four years, their scholarship reductions are 10 a year for four years, their roster limit is 65, and their fine is staggering. Penn State also vacates all its wins from 1998 to 2011, erasing Paterno's name from many record books.
This is all very terrible, and let's think of the victims.
Now let's think about football with our reptile brains.
Can we poach Penn State dudes? Like specifically defensive linemen? A standard corollary to any bowl ban is to waive transfer restrictions on players whose eligibility expires before the ban does. This makes the entire Penn State roster fair game. Furthermore, John Infante says the NCAA is "considering waiving [the] scholarship limit" for schools that accept PSU transfers, something they have officially declared now. The catch is they'd have to pay that scholarship back the next year. In any case, that doesn't apply to Michigan, which is still trying to get up to a full complement of 85 after the Rodriguez attrition fiesta. Right now they've got 78 on scholarship.
The last remaining catch is the Big Ten's intra-conference transfer rule, which was recently nerfed from not being able to offer a scholarship at all to this:
The Big Ten altered its transfer rule within the conference, starting with the 2011-12 season. The new rule allows transfers to receive a grant-in-aid from their new school, but reduces their remaining athletic eligibility by a year. That penalty could have been waived if Wisconsin did not block him [Jared Uthoff] from Big Ten schools.
Penn State has lost the power to block transfers at all, so it may be a free for all not only for various Big East schools but also Michigan itself. Delany has taken some time out from crushing coaches' heads, Kids in the Hall style, to mention the Big Ten is likely to throw the floodgates open:
Both current Penn State players and incoming recruits will be able to transfer and be eligible immediately. Although a transfer within the Big Ten could result in some penalties, league commissioner Jim Delany said Monday that the Big Ten’s presidents and chancellors are leaning toward allowing such transfers with no penalties.
The answer here appears to be "yes."
Would we even want to poach any Penn State dudes? Like specifically defensive linemen? And maybe a tight end? A quick glance at the roster reveals a few guys who could shore up weak spots: DT Jordan Hill was honorable mention All Big Ten and Michigan could really use him at either NT or 3-tech. Anthony Zettel is a touted recruit from Michigan coming off a redshirt… but taking Zettel complicates Michigan's efforts to get 24 guys into its 2013 class since his eligibility does not expire after this year. In general, Michigan's looking for the equivalent of fifth-year transfers in basketball. Guys who might be of interest:
- WR Justin Brown, a senior who was PSU's second-leading receiver with 35 catches last year.
- DT James Terry, Devon Still's backup last year and a guy who will probably move into the starting lineup if he doesn't flee the blast radius.
- DT DaQuan Jones, another backup last year. He's entering his junior season and would require taking the 2013 class down to 23.
- Maybe some tight end but it's tough to say who. PSU's most experienced returner is Kevin Haplea, who had three catches last year and is listed at 248 pounds.
- While it's hypothetically possible an OL could transfer, no one's coming in to play backup tackle, so what's the point?
PSU's very good LBs are seniors but with Michigan returning three starters and grooming an army of youngsters behind them it's doubtful M is the most attractive place should any of them want to transfer.
Would any of these guys even want to leave? When this happened to USC, the Trojans suffered a half-dozen transfers, but the guys who left were universally backups. (That link also includes Seantrel Henderson, but he was a recruit let out of his LOI, so that's maybe not the best example.) It's doubtful any of the PSU seniors will abandon a sure starting gig for uncertainty elsewhere with coaches who haven't thought about you since you were a recruit. They're weighing certainty and loyalty over a one-year cameo somewhere else. Anyone expecting PSU's starting 22 to defect en masse is going to be surprised.
The carnage will be greater with younger kids, who haven't had as much time to develop a fondness for PSU and State College and are staring down the prospect of never going to a bowl again. This doesn't help Michigan much since they want a quick-fix quasi JUCO thing that won't force a player out of the next recruiting class. Few of the players PSU has brought in over the past few years seem worthy of sacrificing that spot. Maybe Zettel, maybe CJ Olaniyan. Past that you're looking at a legion of three-stars and two-stars, guys who don't fit Michigan's positional needs, etc.
Would Michigan even pursue these guys? Probably not. Brady Hoke was recruiting in California or the MAC when these guys were on the market. It would be a surprise if any were on his radar. They might also feel icky about raiding PSU, and they are very confident in their recruiting and evaluation.
On the other hand, you've got an honorable mention All Big Ten DL out there who might enjoy a Rose Bowl…
What about poaching guys who haven't showed up on campus yet? PSU's 2012 LOIs have been invalidated but Urban Meyer already picked PSU's bones clean before signing day. PSU's got one Rivals 250 guy, WR Eugene Lewis. Do you want him or LaQuon Treadwell? Right.
Meanwhile, PSU's 2013 class has the nation's top TE, but Adam Breneman just blew out his ACL. They've also got a touted SDE type in Garrett Sickels who briefly listed Michigan before committing to PSU. Michigan is not the team who will take advantage of the explosion.
Michigan is unlikely to go after anyone who would have eligibility after 2012 but could be interested in one-and-done transfers. Their most obvious needs are WR, TE, and DL, and Penn State has one third-WR type and a couple of starting-ish DTs available. Michigan may look into acquiring Jordan Hill or James Terry. More likely is that the trail of refugees heads to Big East schools.