Silas Redd has been one of the hottest stories in college football in the past week.
After the sanctions imposed by the NCAA upon Penn State amid the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, players from the Nittany Lions are allowed to transfer to other schools while not having to sit out a year as would be normal. In addition, coaches are allowed to contact and visit players that express interest in other programs.
While a lot of writers have written about and reported how Bill O'Brien and his football staff are doing an admirable job of holding the team together, the past few days have not been easy for the core of their roster. So far, four players have transferred with the anticipation that there will be more to follow.
Before going on further, it is necessary to state that there is nothing wrong with any of the players deciding to transfer to other schools, nor with the coaches contacting players that may be interested in their programs. It is a dark time at Penn State and sometimes it is best to remove yourself from a dangerous situation than try and stick it out.
Just because a few people connected with Penn State football made egregious decisions does not mean that all of the players, with their integrity in tact, should also be held accountable for the actions of their predecessors. By offering up positions on their teams, coaches are giving these young and talented athletes the chance to do what they originally went to Penn State to accomplish—to become outstanding athletes and young men.
While one player does not make a team, Silas Redd was the marquee name coming out of this special college football "free-agency" period. Rated as a four-star prospect out of high school, Redd had somewhat of a coming out year in 2011 as he rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns on 244 carries. He is a versatile back that has displayed the skill set necessary to exceed at the college football level.
After the NCAA relaxed recruiting rules for the special circumstances surrounding Penn State, the USC Trojans immediately expressed interest in making Redd a Trojan. The Trojans are one of the top contenders for a BCS National Championship this season, but have issues surrounding their depth at running back. So, not surprisingly, the Trojans pursued Redd as much as they could in order to give Curtis McNeal a solid rushing partner.
Still no issues with it.
The part that I do have issue with, however, is how the Trojans are making room for Silas Redd on their roster.
As stated by ESPN:
USC is not allowed to have more than 75 scholarship players because of sanctions the school received in 2010 due to improper benefits. The school needs a spot for Redd, but USC believes at least one player on scholarship is academically ineligible. If not, a walk-on player likely would give up a scholarship.
While USC is one of the more prestigious universities in the nation, this reflects poorly upon their administration, football program and integrity.
The issue I had with the statement they released is that USC knew their roster was already capped out. They had no more room for other players.
Heading into the recruitment of Silas Redd, USC already knew all of this. Don't think that they ensured his commitment on Monday and then looked at their roster and said, "oops." They went into this knowing the roster situation and ignored all of it just to get a better player on their team, throwing all they promised other players in the trash.
Is USC's integrity in question after the recruitment of Silas Redd?
Redd was never part of the USC framework. It took some of the harshest sanctions in NCAA history for the Trojans to take note of this player and pursue him because of their needs at running back due to various issues the team had to deal with, particularly related to Dillon Baxter.
Sure, the walk-on who might lose his scholarship was originally prepared to cover his tuition, but it is always much harder to let go of than to receive. I'm not so sure a kid on scholarship is ever too willing to accept paying $50,000 a year more just to make his football team better; especially if the particular student taken off of scholarship is already on financial aid - but that is just speculation.
Silas Redd going to USC was probably the best thing for both parties. For Redd, he is going to a team that may contend for a BCS National Championship while USC receives a premiere running back that shores up some questions they had surrounding the depth on their roster. The way USC addressed the fact that their scholarship spots were already filled and continued to pursue this player is what reflects poorly upon the program. Inefficiencies in their recruiting system and the players they recruited created their depth issues, and the Penn State sanctions have actually turned out to be a blessing for a Trojan program that was facing questions at running back. A college football program does not plan to improve their roster through these circumstances and although unfortunate, USC benefited from the scandal at Penn State.
There is nothing wrong with this "free-agency" period at Penn State as it gives players the chance to get away from a dark atmosphere that they had no part in materializing. The issue comes when the school recruiting them (in this case USC) heads into the recruitment with knowledge that they do not have enough room on the team for the player.
USC may have gotten better as a football program, but their integrity and way the football program operates is once again in question after this kind of move.