Today the NCAA announced the “non-death penalty” death penalty given to the Penn State football program, including a $60 million fine, a four year post-season bowl ban, all wins from 1998 to 2011 vacated, and a loss of 40 total scholarships for the next four years (10 per year). Included in that announcement was the fact that all current Penn State players will be allowed an immediate transfer without loss of eligibility or a waiting period, similar to the transfers they allowed to SMU players following the sanctions leveled on that program in the late 1980s. Also, all incoming recruits will be released from their National Letters of Intent. And, if verified, it is being reported that the NCAA is considering waiving scholarship limits to the programs in which athletes transfer to since most schools are already at or near their scholarship max.
Ultimately, a majority of the current Penn State players are likely to jump ship, and most if not all current recruits will likely decommit. After all, if there’s no chance of going to a bowl game, what incentive is there for a student-athlete to participate in that schools football program any longer? So that begs the questions: Should Notre Dame pursue any of these Penn State players, and if so, who?
Regarding whether or not the Irish should consider going after these players, at first I was a little hesitant. These young men are coming from a now scandal-ridden program and could bring with them unwanted media attention to a team that is trying to re-establish itself as a national powerhouse, and has had its own fair share of problems (see the Declan Sullivan tragedy). But then I realized that these young men were not the perpetrators of any of the offenses alleged to have been committed by the Penn State coaches and administration. Why should they be denied a chance to continue their collegiate careers at an institution of Notre Dame’s academic prestige and athletic history just because their names are tied to a horrendous crime they had no part in or any control over? So, yes, if the players want to come to Notre Dame, they should absolutely be allowed to do so by the coaches and athletic department.
With that out of the way, who should the Irish focus on? We’ll start with the 2013 recruiting class. Assuming all of the current commitments take themselves elsewhere, the best bets for a Nittany Lion-Irish defection are:
- CB Ross Douglas (4-star, ESPN.com, Rivals.com)
- OL Dorian Johns (4-star, ESPN.com, Rivals.com)
- OL Brandon Mahon (4-star, ESPN.com, Rivals.com)
- OL Andrew Nelson (4-star, ESPN.com, 3-star Rivals.com)
And a few current Nittany Lions who would potentially be Notre Dame targets should they transfer (and the NCAA relaxes the scholarship limits, again not confirmed yet):
- DT DaQuan Jones, Junior
- RT Donovan Smith, Freshman
- DE CJ Olanyian, Junior
- WR Allen Robinson, Sophomore
- S Adrian Amos, Sophomore
Again, this is not an official list of potential targets, nor a comprehensive one, just a few I have picked as potentials should Notre Dame decided to purse some of these student-athletes.
It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks in the world of college football. Stay tuned.
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