Beckmanâ€™s effort in recruiting Penn State players pays off
Is it still a big deal?
Illinois’ presence on Penn State’s campus and its involvement in recruiting its conference foe’s players gave the school an unusual amount of attention during the Big Ten Media Days in late July.
Eleven coaches were asked if they thought it was right to recruit Penn State players and if they would do so. Of those 11, only Purdue head coach Danny Hope and Illinois head coach Tim Beckman responded they would.
Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien was even asked the hypothetical question during an interview with a Pennsylvania TV station last week, to which he responded with a resounding, “Hell no.”
Here’s a translation of Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer taking the high road at the media days, saying they wouldn’t recruit Nittany Lions.
What they said:
Bielema: “We made a decision that we would not actively pursue any Penn State players.”
Meyer: “I have a problem with that.”
What they meant:
Bielema: “Penn State players have not reached out to Wisconsin and we already have Montee Ball and James White, so we don’t need Silas Redd.”
Meyer: “Penn State players have not reached out to Ohio State and we aren’t eligible to play in the postseason this year, so why would they transfer from one ineligible school to another?”
Besides, Meyer is known for his relentless recruiting. Just ask Bielema about it.
Delving further into this matter, is it that big of a difference to recruit a high school player who’s already committed to a program, as all coaches do, as opposed to recruiting one at another university when the rules allow it?
I can understand how it doesn’t look and feel the same, but it is awfully similar in a unique instance like this.
What happened at Penn State demonstrated how recruiting violations are not the worst thing that can happen in college football.
Given the sanctions, the current football staff had nothing to do with the violations, and despite competing in the same conference, the other 11 members don’t owe Penn State anything. Penn State officials allowed what happened to happen and they need to deal with the consequences. If that results in players transferring to give themselves a better situation and opportunity at another school, then you can’t blame the student-athletes for wanting that.
When Southern Methodist University received the death penalty for the 1987 season, Penn State was one of many schools trying to lure those players away from SMU to come play for its school. It was a different situation with football not an option at SMU, but players were still aggressively pursued.
At the end of the day, you want to have the best team out there; and if it’s within the NCAA rules, it would seem wrong to not do all you could within the rules to have the best team.
With that said, if you were Purdue and Illinois, why wouldn’t you recruit Penn State players in an attempt to make your team better? Especially in a season where the Big Ten Leaders Division only has four teams eligible to compete in the Big Ten Championship game as opposed to the usual six.
Let’s face it: A Penn State transfer would be a welcome sight at Illinois, especially to a head coach whose predecessor didn’t leave him with much, particularly in the offensive line and wide receiver departments.
Enter Ryan Nowicki.
The redshirt freshman chose the Illini over Arizona State and Washington with a chance to work his way onto the starting offensive line.
For how integral the line is to an offense’s success or failure, which was on full display last season for the Illini specifically during the 0-6 stretch to finish the season, they can use all the help they can get.
Now that we have had some time to step back and let the recruiting sink in, Penn State players have transferred to ten schools: Texas, Rutgers, Oklahoma, Florida State, California, LSU, USC, Marshall, N.C. State and Illinois.
On a list that includes some of the nation’s most prestigious football programs essentially “acquiring” some of Penn State’s best players (starting running back Redd transferred to USC and starting wide receiver Justin Brown transferred to Oklahoma), does Illinois’ involvement really look that bad?
With Nowicki leaving for Illinois, having eight coaches on campus appears to have worked in the Illini’s favor.
By adding an offensive lineman, Beckman bettered his roster and ultimately gave his team a better chance to win. Can you really blame him for that?
_Dan is a senior in Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WelinAndDealin._