I think you do a good job summarizing the tangible things Penn State have going for it in its return, but I think there's also a huge psychological element to it. One, the name Penn State will be toxic and synonymous with the scandal for the next two years minimum. People tend not to want to be associated with that. Not saying true believer recruits that come from generations of Penn State fans will be deterred, but a lot of on the fence recruits would be.
Secondly, there's the uncertainty aspect. If it's anything recruits hate, it's uncertainty. Penn State is already in a coaching staff change and there's really no guarantee more changes aren't under way. The HC seems to be locked up by an iron-clad contract, but the assistants may not be. Also, the NCAA is removed pretty much any obstacles to transfering right now. The core of the team may choose to stay and have mildly successful seasons as you say, or there could be a mass exodus that feeds off itself until there's barely anyone left to take the field. There's really no way of knowing at this point. That's a lot of question marks facing a 18 year old trying to decide where to spend the next 4-5 years of his life.
I think your assessment is right long term, that they won't be an SMU, but I think it'll be at least a few years before they rebuild a stable enough foundation to recruit effectively again.