The hammer dropped for USC on Wednesday night, as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback, Skyline (Wash.)’s Max Browne, announced his commitment.
NCAA punishment hasn't stymied USC coach Lane Kiffin's recruiting efforts.
When the Trojans were given scholarship reductions, probation and a two-year bowl ban in June 2010, the natural inclination for college football followers and media members was to question the impending impact.
The standard reaction in the wake of NCAA punishment is to assume that a program’s recruiting efforts will be swept into the collateral damage.
Yet Browne’s pledge is the latest example for why that supposition is so often vastly overstated.
In the immediate aftermath of being banned from this past postseason, Ohio State posted the nation’s No. 5 recruiting class, per 247Sports. With five four-star commitments for the ’13 class under their belt already, the Buckeyes don’t appear to be phased by having to surrender nine scholarships over the next three seasons.
The cloud of an ongoing NCAA investigation still technically lingers over Miami’s football program. But coach Al Golden pulled off one of the coups of the ’12 crop by closing strong to sign the nation’s No. 10 class.
Last month, North Carolina learned it would be docked 15 scholarships for the next three years and have a 2012 postseason ban. Nonetheless, the Tar Heels seem to have built momentum toward keeping many of the state’s better prospects at home – a problem in recent years – to the degree they could easily wind up with four of 247Sports’ current top-10 prospects within the borders.
What it appears to mean is a program’s image might become tarnished in the public eye – arguably the most robust punishment the NCAA can actually levy without the luxury of being able to legally demand the truth, thus the reason so many investigations (see the Cam Newton case) are allowed to drag on.
But the fallout is mainly limited to financial ramifications for the school and depth issues for the new coaching staffs brought in to cut ties to the past.
Tradition and resources go a long way in assuaging prospect and/or parental concerns about punitive impact. After all, guys like Urban Meyer and Lane Kiffin didn’t grow to the stature of netting these caliber of jobs without exhibiting the imperative ability to recruit, surround themselves with recruiters and exert damage control.
Plus there’s the fact that by the time recruits actually matriculate into contributors, those postseason bans will have been a distant memory.
In other words, being a prestigious program means more than being on probation – which is little more than a watch list designed to deter repeat offenses. Scholarship reductions tend to affect quantity, not quality. Coaching turnover allows staffs to separate themselves from the violators.
USC’s recruiting class jumped from No. 33 to No. 26 with Browne’s pledge alone, and odds would favor the Trojans returning to their routine top-10 standing come February -- shortly after their presumably play in their first bowl game in three seasons.
Incurring violations may blot a time period in a program’s media guide. But in recruiting, those stains come out pretty easily.