Wow. It isn't the Death Penalty or the Coma Penalty, but it is definitely up there as far as crippling.
Penn State just found out that their program will be severely punished for years of covering up a child sex abuse scandal courtesy of Jerry Sandusky. The penalties are unprecedented and send a very clear message: this will not be tolerated.
To recap, if you haven't already logged onto Twitter today, Penn State vacates all wins from 1998-2011 (dropping Joe Pa from 1st to 12th all time in coaching victories), a four year bowl ban, loss of 10 initial scholarships + 20 a year for the next four years, a $60 million fine, and a waiver allowing all current Penn State football players to transfer immediately.
I won't get into whether this is a fair penalty or not (that is for the comment thread) but here is just a humble fan's reaction to this.
Because it's Penn State, this will not kill the program like the Death Penalty killed SMU football. Penn State has the alumni, NFL clout, and resources to rebuild after this four year period. However, for the next four years, Penn State will be anything but competitive. Initially, everyone is saying players will stay and stick out their careers but I'm not so sure.
Upperclassmen have just found out that the man they followed to Happy Valley covered up a horrible crime and is far less than he was advertised to be. Now he's gone and you have the opportunity to go play anywhere that will take you instead of playing out your career at a shamed program. Some men who have bonded with the school will stay for sure. But the younger players who have to realize that the team will only get worse year to year are going to think long before they decide to stay. My feeling is most freshman and sophomores leave while about half of the juniors and seniors bolt as well. It's only fair to them.
Secondly, this sends a loud and clear message to all other schools much like Bounty-Gate did to the NFL (apples and oranges I know, but the unprecedented punishments send the same message): Do not think you are more powerful that the NCAA and do not think you have the ability to be judge and jury. Without getting political, it's a common theme for larger than life figures/groups to start bending the rules for their own benefit. For all the crap that I usually fling at the NCAA governing body, it's times like now that you see why they exist.
Not to take away from this seriousness, but this does affect Syracuse..
As Cuse Nation Fox tweeted this morning, Syracuse was in the recruiting race for a handful of PSU recruits, one of which as already decommitted from PSU. I don't have a full list of PSU/Syracuse crossover players, but I'm sure that will be forthcoming. After what has been a relatively quiet recruiting board for Syracuse, this could be a huge boost for Marrone's squad. It may seem wrong to capitalize on tragedy, but this is what the NCAA had in mind when the penalties came down.
Overall, this is a day that will be remembered throughout the college world. Penn State was one fo the elite football programs in the country. Hard to believe that's all changed.
UPDATE: As of now, a quick ESPN search has the following 2013 commits on record as receiving offers from Syracuse as well: 3 stars: DE Curtis Cothran WR William Fuller, WR Zack Bradshaw, ATH Zayd Issiah, S Neiko Robinson, OLB Brandon Bell. Four Stars: DE Garrett Sickles, OT Andrew Nelson, ATH Anthony Averett, TE Adam Breneman, OT Dorian Johnson, QB Christian Hackenburg.
I'll do more updates from last year's class later on today unless someone beats me to it.