By William Bowman
The Daily Item
Bucknell football coach Joe Susan probably knows better than most what impact the loss of scholarships will have at Penn State.
Susan, a long-time college assistant who is entering his third year as the head coach at BU, was the recruiting coordinator for a decade under Bucknell grad Greg Schiano at Rutgers. There the coaching staff authored one of the great resurrections in college football history, turning the Scarlett Knights into regular Big East title contenders after decades as one of the NCAA’s bottom feeders.
Susan knows how imperfect recruiting can be and how that creates challenges for Bill O’Brien as he starts his coaching career at Penn State amidst devastating sanctions.
Earlier this week Penn State was hit with a four-year bowl ban, meaning all players on the current roster will not play in a bowl game during their careers unless a true freshman redshirts this year. Moreover, Penn State was absorbed a huge reduction in scholarships — 10 a year for four years and a cap at 65 — which will put the Nittany Lions 20 below other FBS schools.
“Because of the reductions in scholarships, they can’t really miss with a kid,” Susan said Wednesday at Patriot League media day. “And the problem with that is it’s recruiting, you are going to miss. Some kids just don’t turn into the players you thought they could. That hurts when you are at 85, but it’s even tougher when you are at a FCS scholarship level.”
When the Patriot League goes to scholarships next year Penn State will have the same number of available scholarships (15) as Bucknell will over the next four seasons.
“What that does is really affect your depth,” said Susan. “That’s the biggest thing. One injury can be devastating and really set you back.”
Despite the trouble the loss of scholarships can have, Susan is confident O’Brien and his staff will succeed at Penn State.
“From everything I’ve heard and what I know about those guys, they are going to be successful,” he said. “You can still sell Penn State and that’s better than a lot other things people can sell. You have great facilities, a great fan base, a great school. Plus, Bill’s been in the NFL and he knows how to get you there.”