By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Wouldn't it be interesting to be a fly on the wall when a member of the Penn State coaching staff enters the home of a stud recruit and tries to convince him to come to Happy Valley?

(Full disclosure: I still don't think it's fair that Penn State's football program got slammed like it did. The scum who let the scum, Jerry Sandusky, keep committing his heinous crimes are being dealt with in the criminal system.

And the most famous of the scum, Joe Paterno, is dead. But the NCAA saw fit to hammer the football program, so that's where we stand).

Now, back to recruiting, or what recruiting might look like for the Nittany Lions.

With 10 fewer scholarships a year for four years to deal out, Penn State has to be even more judicious on who gets them. But the problem with that is, recruiting is an art not a science.

In other words, college recruiters miss on recruits all the time. Most say for every six scholarships doled out, three of the kids pan out and the other three flame out.

Penn State can't have that. They need to do the impossible and hit on just about every player they seek, for four straight years. Good luck.

And, in order to compete on the highest level, the Nittany Lions need to get the top tier players to agree to come to them.

Again, good luck, because those top tier guys all believe they're going to play in the NFL one day and want to go to a place where they have a chance to win a national championship.

That place, for the next few years, isn't Happy Valley because of the four year bowl ban also imposed by the NCAA.

Another obstacle is what recruiters from other teams will say about Penn State. Yes, it sounds unethical, but remember, the coaches from the other teams have one thing in mind when recruiting.

That is: "If we can get the best players to come to our school, we can win plenty of football games and, most importantly, we can keep our jobs."

I'm not sure I can argue against that thinking. The smart recruiters might not say anything about Penn State. They make themselves look better if they do that because recruits and parents think they're taking the high road.

They might be, which is admirable. But they're also being shrewd. Every kid playing high school football today knows about the Penn State mess. Why dredge it back up if you don't need to?

Knock, knock.

Coach: "Hi, I'm coach X, I work with the defense at Penn State and I'd like to talk to your son about coming to our school.

Parent: "Please come in."

Coach to recruit: "We have a great football tradition, you'd be part of something new with our coaching staff and you'll have a chance to play. And we offer a great education."

Recruit: "Well, coach, that sounds nice and all, but what will I be doing in January? Watching bowl games from this couch with my parents over break?"

Coach: "Um, yeah. But by playing in the Big Ten, every game is like a bowl game."

Recruit: "Like your game against Indiana in October?"

Coach: "Well, most of the games are really big."

Recruit: "I don't know coach. A lot of the other schools I'm looking at get to go to bowls and they also have what I'm looking for academically. And those rings you get for winning a national title are really cool."

Coach: "We'll get back to that point soon and we need you to help us do that."

Recruit: "Thanks, coach, but by the time you get back to that point I'll be long gone from your school."

Coach: "But you'll be remembered for laying the foundation."

Recruit: "For a team that might win a national title when I'm 30?"

Coach: "Well, you think about it.

Recruit: "I will. Thanks, coach. And good luck against Indiana."

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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