James Franklin’s recruiting success in his first year at Penn State is nothing less than stunning. I thought he was on solid ground in saying he wants to get as much Pa. talent as possible and hiring former Penn State player and former WPIAL head coach Terry Smith would really help in that area.
But, Smith’s 2015 early commitment class is ranked #1 nationally by a couple of scouting services, a spot Penn State apparently hasn’t occupied for a couple of decades. That is really something.
I attribute this to a few reasons. One has to be Franklin and his staff. The guy took a down and out program at Vanderbilt and made it a winner in a very tough conference. He brought much of his staff along, and his hires, as noted above, look good. The opportunity to play right away may be better at Penn State than at many other top tier programs for the next few years due to the roster depletion caused by the NCAA scholarship sanctions. And, Penn State is still a very attractive place to go to school, and to play football, for many of the nation’s top high schoolers.
This final reason may be particularly galling to Mark Emmert and his NCAA cronies. They seemed to want to kill the Nittany Lions’ program due to the crimes of one former coach, and the alleged cover up of a handful of administrators, and possibly, the former head coach. A Commonwealth Court judge rightly said a couple of weeks ago this is an area where the NCAA has no jurisdiction and no business sticking its nose.
This organization is under seige from current and former athletes. They are tired of watching this behemoth reap hundreds of millions of dollars from their hard work every year, and then keep making money from the athletes’ likenesses ever after they are through playing. Money these athletes can have none of. All the while the organization keeps making more rules that often make no sense.
What delicious irony if PSU were to compete for and even win a national title in the next four or five years, a time when the NCAA obviously intended the program to be struggling merely to compete with second division teams.
At the same time the NCAA itself, perhaps, is fighting to keep its own head above water.
It will indeed be interesting to see where both PSU and the NCAA are in 2018.