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Penn State Sanctions: Nittany Lions Hit Hard, Make No Mistake About It

Bill O'Brien and the Nittany Lions have a lot of work to do (Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE)
Bill O'Brien and the Nittany Lions have a lot of work to do (Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE)

So, we're in the aftermath of the Penn State sanctions that dropped this morning. Predictably, there was an immediate rush to judgment from both sides in the Twittersphere. There's a sentiment out there that thinks Penn State got off a bit easily.

Yeah, that's not the case at all.

In case you haven't seen all of the penalties yet, here's a good breakdown. To me, the biggest thing is probably the postseason ban. Kids don't want to play big time college football without ... playing big time football. What's the point of suiting up in games against Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Ohio State if they essentially don't count for anything? Because of that, there's certainly going to be a dropoff of significant talent headed Penn State's way. Why wear the blue and white if there's no chance of playing in a National Championship, or even a significant bowl game?

Or any bowl game.

Penn State is looking at four consecutive years of recruiting disaster the equivalent of losing to Toledo. For a while, the football program will no longer land the big-time recruits they have in the past. Instead, they'll see kids who likely never would have even had their Facebook Friend Requests accepted by ol' Billy boy. Kids who may opt for Penn State instead of playing at a MAC school, essentially chalking it up to the fact that they wouldn't have had a chance to play in a significant postseason bowl game, anyway. They'll also get some better players who may excel in academics and desire a Penn State education, which (perhaps contrary to popular belief), still holds value.

The days of getting a steady stream of four- and five-star studs who had their pick of other schools? Effectively over for the next few years.

Then there's the fine.

$60 million spread out over several years is a significant amount, but not a insurmountable one. The unfortunate thing for students/future students is that Penn State will obviously do what it can to try to balance out these costs and tuition, which already gets increased pretty regularly, will almost certainly rise. Here's what's significant about the fine, though. Penn State will lose donors and advertisers/sponsors over this - there's no way around it. Some folks are just so disgusted with what went down that donating even the amount it cost to go to Knoebels for a day will equate to actively supporting a crime ring to them. And how the football program is hit financially remains to be seen, of course. More money going out and less money coming in is never a good thing.

Some large sponsors will bail because they aren't tied to the university as fans are. They're more than happy to jump off the ledge and spend their money elsewhere (Heinz Field is a great place for signage, folks). But what about the fans? With what are sure to be four uneventful and likely, losing, seasons, how many donors will want to not only pay the significant fee required for the cost of tickets, but also the amount required via a donation? Some will step in to replace others, and most will probably ride out the storm so that they still have their tickets when the program is postseason-eligible again. But a significant drop in donations shouldn't surprise anyone.

The other key factor is the number of lost scholarships. Penn State has fewer scholarships to offer, meaning that they not only will have a lesser quality of players, they'll have a smaller quantity as well. Depth will become a much bigger issue. Injuries to key players will be more crucial since each position will be stacked a little less.

These factors all add up to more losing - and not just for four years, either. After all, do you really think Penn State will be able to come back in four years and become a title contender right away? The four years of sanctions will equate to more than that simply because of perception after the program puts some losing seasons together. And while Urban Mayer isn't exactly known for staying in one place for an incredibly long time, imagine the business he'll do against a Penn State program that's been limping around like a wounded animal in the B1G for four seasons if he's still around ... particularly if he's successful. Good luck to O'Brien & Company if they think making up ground on Ohio State at that point will be easy.

There are also the vacated wins, meaning most importantly, that JoePa is no longer the career leader in victories. There's a thought out that there this means nothing - that it's merely for show. While it's not as significant as some of the other stuff, it is a big deal, in my opinion. You've got to remember - to central Pennsylvania, Paterno was as big a figure as there was. Folks in Happy Valley and beyond would scoff at a guy like Bobby Bowden and were quick to point out that their program was squeaky clean compared to the likes of a Florida State or Miami. All of that's gone now, folks, and the sanctions reinforce that reality.

Two years ago, the thought of Bowden painted in a more favorable way than Paterno would have seemed laughable ... now it's the other way around. Penn State took this one on the chin and we'll see the tangible results in terms of actual wins/losses. But the sanctions also hammer home the fact that the program is viewed in a negative light as a whole from a perception standpoint. The victories may come back eventually, but the clean viewpoint of the program is something that's probably gone forever. Having to vacate wins earned by their revered coach to put him down a rung on the ladder behind Bowden really hurts many of them - be sure of it.

Make no mistake, the NCAA was plenty tough on the Nittany Lions. The sanctions will last four years, but the ramifications should last several more.

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