The NCAA dropped a hammer on Penn State’s recruiting efforts juts three summers ago. Despite lifting it and easing back the impact of the sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State is still attempting to catch up to be able to compete in conference against the juggernaut that is Ohio State. It is a reality that Penn State head coach James Franklin is aware of and uses as a bit of caution to temper expectations for the Nittany Lions in 2015.
“Probably in three years we’ll get back to having not only numbers that make more sense, but also how it’s spread out,” Franklin said when discussing Penn State’s scholarship distribution at this point in time, per Greg Pickel of PennLive.com. “That’s the other issue right now.”
As things stand at this point, Penn State is operating on either 81 or 82 scholarship players, Franklin outlined Tuesday. The NCAA released Penn State of any recruiting sanctions to allow the program to get back on track much sooner than initially anticipated in 2012 when the NCAA reduced Penn State’s total number of scholarships from the maximum of 85 down to 65. The NCAA slowly restored some of those scholarships in previous years and now has lifted all aspects of the sanctions against the program.
But just because Penn State can operate at close to full strength in terms of scholarships, does not mean Penn State is on the same level as Ohio State or Michigan State. Penn State’s recruiting class of 2012 was stained by the Sandusky scandal before the sanctions were levied, and Bill O’Brien‘s first full recruiting cycle in 2013 had limited scholarships which prevented a chance to provide much depth (see the offensive line).
Franklin may have Penn State heading in a positive direction despite a rough debut season in State College, but it will be another year or two before Penn State will realistically have any chance to entertain Big Ten championship dreams.