With Sanctions In The Past, Future Is Bright For Penn State Football

Penn State football is officially back on the map. After taking two years off from postseason eligibility thanks to unprecedented NCAA sanctions, the bowl ban has been lifted, the scholarships are scheduled to be reinstated, and the program is set free to wreak havoc on the world of college football as it has for many years and as it will for many years to come.

We’re all excited about the thought of the Nittany Lions heading back to a bowl game for the first time in years, largely in part to our expectation that this time wouldn’t come for two more seasons. And excited as we may be, reasonably so of course, it’s difficult to determine what this means for the future of the Penn State football program.

In terms of unambiguous and precise changes to expect, there’s the obvious bump in recruiting ability that the promise of postseason play and the shot at a national championship provides. There’s more on that here, but suffice it to say that James Franklin and his crack team of savvy recruiters will have a much easier time recruiting with the sanctions off the table and the scandal more solidified in the past and less of a question mark looming over the future.

As for a tangible on-the-field difference, that is a little more difficult to quantify. Nittany Lion football players typically don’t have too much of an issue finding motivation to give their all on the gridiron every Saturday. They have a six-figure crowd and the best fans in the world to play in front of at an iconic stadium in legendary uniforms. With all that in mind, it at the very least can’t hurt for the players to know that after they play Michigan State to finish off the regular season, there may be a Big Ten Championship and perhaps even a Rose Bowl coming next.

The biggest and most pertinent change as the team moves forward, though, may be the very fact that they’re doing just that. Moving forward. The Sandusky scandal sanctions are a thing of the past — or scheduled to end early in the case of the scholarships. The cloud looming over Happy Valley is finally passing over, letting the sun shine once again on Beaver Stadium and the Penn State football team.

Senator George Mitchell’s second annual report on athletic integrity painted an extremely positive picture. The university has followed the Freeh Report recommendations to a T and then some. The NCAA is loosening its leash over the university. And with all of that going on, the world actually isn’t imploding into itself.

The future is bright for the Nittany Lions, folks. And after all that this team has been through, it deserves nothing less.

For the future that we wait. Raise the song, raise the song.

About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a StateCollege.com reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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