Penn State cut a deal with the NCAA to avoid a football death penalty, but a substantial exodus of players, before and after the 2012 season, could cancel a season anyway. A large number of transfers before 2013 and 2014 could dip roster numbers so low fielding a football team would become impractical and even unsafe.
The Nittany Lions have their total scholarships capped at 65 in 2014, down from a normal 85. Assuming this list is roughly accurate, Penn State has 78 players on scholarship. Thirteen expire before 2013 and another 22 before 2014 dropping them to 43. Adding 30 gives them more than enough leeway to account for a small number of transfers be at or around 65 in 2014. That hamstrings them greatly for competing, but they can still field a team.
While Penn State should be okay for 2012, problems could start in 2013 and 2014. Let’s say five juniors and 10 freshman/sophomores leave by the start of the 2013 season. Penn State brings in its 15 freshmen. That puts them right at 65 for 2013. With 17 seniors departing in 2014 and 15 freshmen coming in that puts them at 63 in 2014, potentially dropping even lower in the years following.
It could be many more players. Let’s say that number is eight juniors and 20 freshman/sophomores by the start of 2013. That drops Penn State to 52 scholarship players in 2013 and 53 in 2014. At that point you start to rethink having a football team. Penn State might not only not compete but could place its players in harm’s way. That’s not just playing MAC players in the Big Ten. That’s approaching the point where 180-pound walk ons from State College start filling out the two-deep.
With coaches looking to pick Penn State’s roster clean to the bone, the latter is not a disaster scenario. It’s a plausible one.
[Photo via Getty]
Previously: Mark Emmert Brought Down Penn State, But Left Disturbing Precedent for NCAA
Previously: Penn State Transfers: Five Players Who Could Make an Immediate Impact in 2012
Previously: Penn State Punished by the Big Ten: No Bowl Revenue Share and Ineligible for Big Ten Title Game For Four Years