Penn State's reduced sanctions a major boost for recruiting: Explaining the math


Just how big of a reduction did Penn State receive of its recruiting penalties by the NCAA? Huge.

There are no guarantees in recruiting. Every recruit signed has a chance to blossom into a good player, perhaps a star. Higher-rated recruits are more likely to become stars, but it's still a numbers game. Signing more recruits increases the chance that a school will find more good players -- it's why some schools decry the oversigning practices at Alabama.

And with Tuesday's news that the NCAA is drastically reducing the scholarship sanctions levied against Penn State, the numbers game for the Nittany Lions just got a whole lot better.

Let's take a look at the difference in allowable incoming recruiting class and total scholarship roster size under the original and revised sanctions.

Incoming class Total roster
Academic Year Original Revised Original Revised
2014-15 15 20 65 75
2015-16 15 25 65 80
2016-17 15 25 65 85

65 85

Over the next four recruiting classes, Penn State will be able to bring in 70 players -- 56 percent more than the original plan's limitation of 45. That is an enormous boost to Penn State's recruiting. Put another way, Penn State will be able to bring in 93 percent of what any other college football team could bring in. To put it yet another way, the NCAA slashed its remaining penalties on incoming class size by 83-percent.

Not only is this going to help Penn State's recruiting from a pure numbers standpoint, but the increased numbers will feed into a cycle that sees Penn State play at a much higher level on the field. The higher level of on-field play, and the lack of embarrassing losses like the home defeat against Central Florida, will bring a higher level of recruit back to Happy Valley. Avoiding the major drop-off in on-field play, which was pretty much unavoidable under the old plan, is an incredible boost to the Penn State program.

The increased roster size will also be a big help to player development. While Penn State will be able to sell immediate playing time to a number of recruits, it won't have to press those into action who are not ready -- a move that could stunt their development.

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