Ed: bumped because I always like to see more debate on this topic...and I'm still not sure where I fall in this debate. --CG
(Thanks to everyone who helped out with the scholarship matrix from a couple of weeks ago. I intended to write this follow-up post sooner, but stuff happens.)
By my count, the number is 10. That's how many players PSU will be over the scholarship limit of 80 when the team suits up for opening day 2015 IF they take a full 25 scholarship players in the Class of '15. So who is getting the boot, and how is that conversation supposed to go?
Let's go back. Per the matrix, PSU currently has 75 scholarship players. This includes 10 senior-eligibility players, who will obviously not count against 2015. The only possibility of that not being true is in the case of Miles Dieffenbach, should he receive a medical redshirt. For the purposes of this post, I'm not going to count Dieffenbach in the 2015 analysis. So that leaves 65 current scholarship players who will be back for 2015.
What about the additions, namely the Class of '15 recruits? Currently, there are 12 (Adam McLean does not appear on the scholarship matrix). Penn State is allowed to sign the full 25 recruits in RY15, provided the total number of scholarship players does not exceed 80 (this number goes back to the full 85 in RY16). Everything I've read, from major media outlets to premium site editors to message boards indicates that PSU will take the full 25. Consequently, this post contemplates that a full recruiting class will sign on NLOI Day in February.
OK, so now what? Well, here's where it gets tricky. 65 players return for 2015, and PSU adds 25 new players. That's 90 scholarships. Thanks to scholarship reductions, PSU can only have 80 players on scholarship. How does CJF get there? Well, no one seems able to provide an answer any more detailed than "attrition, man" or "some guys will get the talk."
I get it. Steven Bench got that same talk last year, when BOB sat down the young man and told him, allegedly, that he was third on the depth chart behind Hack and Ferguson. Bench decided PSU was no longer the place for him, and transferred to South Florida. Will that happen ten times between now and next August? Hell, even if your argument is that PSU will receive those five extra scholarships early due to further sanction reductions, will that happen five times between now and next August?
Joe Paterno was a lot of things, good and bad. But can anyone imagine Joe sitting in front of ten players and essentially ushering them out the door before their scholarship was out? Sure, scholarships are one-year agreements under NCAA regulations. But they weren't that way under Joe Paterno.
Franklin isn't Paterno. I understand. But this also isn't the SEC, where oversigning and roster maintenance is murky and muddled and your coaches tell the media they have no right to ask about scholarships.
Are you OK with Franklin asking ten players to move on from their PSU careers? To be honest, I haven't made up my mind yet. Recruiting in 2015 is markedly different than recruiting was in Paterno's prime. If this is the cost of keeping up with Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and the rest of the major recruiting players, well I guess that's how it has to be.
Finally, who are these ten players? I've been looking at the scholarship matrix, and I can't identify the ten Nittany Lions that Franklin is going to have to talk to. Depth and experience issues plague this team; you really think Franklin can afford to effectively cut ten upperclassmen to make way for 25 unproven recruits?
I'm not going to be the first person to start naming names. Can you come up with a list?
(CAVEAT: As with any exercise in scholarship analysis, I'm sure my numbers aren't exact. But I've looked at enough sources to be confident that I'm +/- 2 scholarships, so there's that.)