Penn State and the 5 Toughest Division I Schools at Which to Recruit

Andrew Kulha@@AKonSportsSenior Analyst IIIOctober 18, 2012

Penn State and the 5 Toughest Division I Schools at Which to Recruit

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    Some college football programs have a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting just because they are who they are.

    Whether it be because of a poor football tradition, a less-than-stellar football fan base, their proximity to a major powerhouse, or—in Penn State's case—scandal, some programs just have a hard time recruiting.

    Here are the five toughest places to recruit at in Division I college football.

5. UCLA

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    Jim Mora is doing a great job of recruiting so far at UCLA, but he certainly has his work cut out for him.

    UCLA is known more for it's achievements in basketball than in football, but to compound the matter and make things worse, they have to compete with the likes of USC for elite recruits.

    The Trojans are literally down the street from UCLA, and Lane Kiffin's program certainly has an advantage over the Bruins when it comes to recruiting.

    UCLA is really hurt by their proximity here.

    Being so close to USC makes recruiting much harder, and until they can get the football program on par or close to the Trojans', it's going to continue being tough.

4. Michigan State

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    Mark Dantonio has done a great job of restoring the Spartans' football program and making it relevant within the Big Ten, but he's always going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting, if only because of where MSU is located.

    Dantonio has to compete in a region that boasts the likes of the University of Michigan and Ohio State, which essentially makes MSU the third option for big-time recruits.

    The level of difficulty has arguably increased for MSU now that their two big rivals have excellent recruiters at the helms of their programs as well.

    Some would say that Brady Hoke is one of the best recruiters in the country at Michigan, and there's no denying how good Urban Meyer is as a recruiter, and now he's the head man at Ohio State.

    Dantonio has built a solid program, which is a credit to him, but it's not going to get any easier moving forward as both Michigan and Ohio State climb back to the top of the Big Ten.

3. Indiana

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    When most of us think of Indiana we think of football, right?

    Unfortunately, if not for the Colts in the NFL, Indiana would be a state dominated by the sport of basketball.

    Check out this contrast: The Hoosiers basketball team is ranked No. 1 in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll. The football program? Well, they're 2-4 and 0-3 in conference.

    You just simply don't go to Indiana to play football.

    They are a basketball school through and through, and that absolutely hurts them from a football recruiting standpoint.

2. Duke

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    Duke has a football team?

    That's said as a joke, but seriously, I have to wonder how many college football fans could name just one player on Blue Devils' roster.

    Duke is known as a superb basketball school, and perhaps, like Indiana, that hurts its football program.

    When I think of Duke, I think of the Cameron Crazies and Coach K.

    I do not think of football, and I have a feeling that most elite recruits don't either.

1. Penn State

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    The scandal involving Jerry Sandusky and former head coach Joe Paterno almost shut down the football program, and it's going to be a very long time before Penn State—as a university or community—is ever the same.

    Current head coach Bill O'Brien is doing his best to move forward from the wreckage with a new attitude and a focus on change, but you'd be naïve to believe that people, including big-time recruits, will be able to forget about the travesties that happened at Penn State.

    The program has been stained, and that alone will make recruiting very tough for O'Brien. That's not even considering the NCAA sanctions, the reduction of scholarships and the four-year bowl ban.

    Penn State has easily become the toughest school to recruit at, and that's not going to change for a while.

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