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Penn State Football Nearly Triples Recruiting Expenses From Paterno Era

By all accounts, Penn State is “dominating the state” in recruiting so far in the still-fresh James Franklin era. But that catchphrase doesn’t come cheap. According to numbers reported yesterday by Yahoo Sports, Penn State nearly tripled its recruiting expenses — from $258,800 in 2011 to $736,739 in 2013 — good for third highest in the Big Ten.

The report notes that many Big Ten programs have seen an increase in “non-coaching positions” recently to help out with the recruiting process. Expenses include (mostly) travel, salaries for recruiting-only staff members, mailing/contact with players, among other things.

Joe Paterno was once a tenacious recruiter — “Joe didn’t recruit us – he recruited our moms,” former wide receiver Jimmy Cefalo famously said — but recruiting appearances became rare at the end of his career. When Paterno visited Terrelle Pryor in 2008, it was the first time in years he had made a home visit to a high school prospect, and it would end up being his last, despite coaching for nearly four more seasons. Players chose Penn State largely to play for a legend and to enjoy all the other perks of being a Penn State student, not because of an aggressive recruiting pitch from the head coach. Bill O’Brien made sure those days ended — recruiting expenses increased to $443,022 only in his first year — and all signs point to Franklin continuing that upward trajectory.

Penn State is following a conference-wide trend, which has seen recruiting expenses increase 57 percent in a two-year period.

Here are the statistics for the entire conference. You’ll notice Illinois is second in the conference (flights through State College airport don’t run cheap):

Illinois: $545,363 (2011), $614,529 (2012), $791,972 (2013)

Indiana: $270,134 (2011), $393,764 (2012), $402,262 (2013)

Iowa: $307,226 (2011), $403,305 (2012), $477,455 (2013)

Michigan: $577,633 (2011), $493,464 (2012), $664,492 (2013)

Michigan State: $383,448 (2011), $421,944 (2012), $627,592 (2013)

Minnesota: $348,609 (2011), $543,994 (2012), $648,755 (2013)

Nebraska: $478,554 (2011), $752,681 (2012), $818,509 (2013)

Ohio State: $320,938 (2011), $344,987 (2012), $564,152 (2013)

Penn State: $258,800 (2011), $443,022 (2012), $736,739 (2013)

Purdue: $428,805 (2011), $404,385 (2012), $480,168 (2013)

Wisconsin: $204,181 (2011), $212,045 (2012), $256,967 (2013)

TOTALS: $4,123,691 (2011), $5,028,120 (2012), $6,469,063 (2013)

About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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