I was skeptical when someone tweeted that the planned sanctions against PSU would make the university wish it had 'just' got the death penalty. Turns out that was a severe understatement, Rather than one dark year, maybe two, the Lions have at least a half decade worth of rebuilding to do *after* their punishment ends in 2016.
The punishment, ranked with by my SWAG from least to greatest is:
Five years NCAA probation:
Probation is not so much a punishment. It's more of a giant angry finger warning you not to do that again. And by "that" the NCAA means any of the thousands of little obscure rules in their book. It will make the life of PSU's compliance officer hell but on the whole would not have impacted the team.
The NCAA-enforced creation of various oversight positions:
It's never pleasant to have someone else making up jobs you have to fill. But again this is one of those things that would hurt the back office and administration of the program. Not the players or fans.
Four year Bowl Ban:
This comes along with a four year ban on the Big Ten championship game, not that they would have been a factor in those games given the rest of the punishment. Honestly with all the bad publicity coming out PSU could have had a couple of Minnesota Gopher type seasons without any help from the NCAA. Certainly they would have struggled to compete for BCS slots.
So what PSU lost here was two, maybe three mid tier bowl games. For a mid major thats huge but for a B10 power, not such a big deal.
Vacation of all wins from 1998 through 2011:
Depening on who you are this is either the lightest, or the harshest aspect of the ruling. Paterno faithful can rightfully say "How does this *FIX* anything". Paterno broke no NCAA rules during this time and did not cheat for the wins.
Detractors of Joe Pa can simply point at what was going on with Sandusky and say "do you want that to apply to Paterno's legacy?
So I put this in the middle.
$60 million fine over five years, with the fine going to an endowment for children's charities
12 Million a year is not *awful* for a Big Ten program, frankly this is something PSU should have foisted on themselves. It's a pretty substantial hit but it's only about 10% of their departments revenue, clearly not a crippling fine but one that will leave a mark.
Penn State players can transfer immediately without penalty:
This is huge. It's even bigger if the rumors that those players will be allowed to count above and beyond the normal scholarship count could be the one that kills Penn State.
Conrad already talked about how UB could be looking at Penn State players. If the Bulls will be looking what do you think the power conferences are going to do?
This is where the pain starts. For the next four years PSU is restricted to 15 scholarships. By the time all is said and done the most the Lions will have is 65 scholarship athletes on the roster. This will make winning conference games, let alone enough of them to be relevant, an arduous tasks.
So you have talented freshman and sophomores on the roster and they are faced with no bowls, no championships, a skeleton crew, a 10% budget cut, and extra scrutiny. Then you have the big programs come sniffing around for the stars, and the mid majors sniffing for diamonds in the ruff.
The end is not pretty.
I'm not sure how I feel about the NCAA sanctions. Some of them seem to be a purely punitive action to punish something done by someone in jail, someone in the grave, and a couple of people fired by the university. Nerfing Joe Paterno's win total will not prevent stuff like this from happening, nor will taking down his statue.
On the flip side is there any punishment that would be too much? What was allowed to happen at Penn State was beyond anything the NCAA has ever had to deal with (I think). You have to hit them worse than you hit Ohio for tat-gate, or USC for their actions some years back.
How does this affect UB?
This directly effects the Bulls because we play Penn State in 2015, now this could be a winnable game if the Bulls right their ship. Or, Penn State can try to buy out the contract though I don't see any reason for them to do it.
How does this affect the MAC?
The Little Cesar's Bowl has a Big10 tie in. It's one that the Big 10 had trouble filling for years until they expanded. Now, with one more out of the mix it looks like that will effectively be a MAC Sun Belt game again.