Not to confuse all of you with my venturing into the recruiting pool for a few moments, but this seems to be worth a quick word. On Wednesday, Bill O'Brien answered a few questions from the Atlanta Journal-Consitution, mostly focusing on recruiting and Penn State's new battleground state of Georgia. It wasn't all that remarkable, until this nugget came flying out with the subtlety of a dump truck driving through a nitro glycerin plant:
"We’re in the process of evaluating our roster right now. We’re trying to get a real hold on what exactly our needs are for next year. And then, at that point, we’ll make a decision on whether we’ll do what you’re talking about. There’s some definite advantages in doing that. Right now, we haven’t made a decision on whether we’re headed in that direction.”
What the reporter was talking about was oversigning. But what O'Brien said in response is something more than just confusing.
First, Penn State previously made a commitment under the old staff that it wouldn't oversign. Yes, I realize this isn't the old staff, but this leads to the next point...
...that the Penn State community wouldn't stand for oversigning, if O'Brien and his staff attempted to do it. The fan base has already come out in support of those who do not oversign, and have expressed opposition to the idea that Penn State would participate in such a dishonest practice.
Next, this doesn't jive with the fact that Penn State began offering four-year scholarships in this recruiting class. The Big Ten instituted this for the current year, and all the programs in the conference will offer the long-term grants to their athletes.
I'm not sure what any of this means. Will O'Brien and his staff oversign if the opportunity presents itself? How does the athletic department feel about this? How would the fans react to such a drastic shift in the program's personality? Or did O'Brien not mean it the way it came out? Do we even know that the question was posed the way the AJC article portrayed it?
That's all out there, but we don't know.
I can't picture Penn State--with its newly-found "focus" on academics (as if PSU didn't care about it before) and the "student-athlete"--going along with O'Brien's suggestion that he'd oversign. That would slap a huge bruise on the image Penn State is trying to convey right now. And it's not a fight/controversy anyone wants to have.
Keep an eye on this story, especially as this recruiting class gets bigger and its profile increases.