Penn State did what it felt it had to do by parting ways with Patrick Chambers, who resigned under pressure on Oct. 21 following an investigation into his treatment of players.
It should come as no surprise, though, that the Nittany Lions are now paying a heavy price when it comes to recruiting.
The PSU basketball program is now in major trouble from a recruiting standpoint, with a grand total of zero commitments as this season rapidly approaches next week.
Sunday, 4-star center Elijah Hutchins-Everett decommitted from PSU, becoming the third such recruit to do so in the past month. This was a big loss, too, as the big man is a top 200 national recruit and the No. 31 center.
Previously, 3-star power forward TaQuan Woodley decommitted Oct. 27, six days after Chambers’ resignation. A week later, 3-star point guard Houston Mallette decommitted.
Having zero commits at this time of year is bad enough. But when you couple it with the fact that no one knows who PSU’s next coach will be, and it stands to reason that the Lions will not be able to sign any recruits of note for at least another 4-5 months.
All of this could be crushing for the program, setting it back 2-3 years from talent and depth standpoints when all is said and done.
Here’s what Rivals national college basketball reporter Rob Cassidy texted NSN about the Penn State situation on Monday:
This kind of uncertainty is pretty typical across schools and even across sports when abrupt coaching changes take place. Uncertainty is rat poison to recruiting, so I wouldn’t expect many well-regarded prospects to jump in the boat until Penn State has a longterm plan for a coaching direction.
Obviously, Jim Ferry is going to do all he can to build for he future, but that interim tag has a way of terrifying recruits. I think the play for him is to localize recruiting, and try to get in good position for players that have grown up with some emotional bond to the university. The fact of the matter is that few players with options are going to sign with a school halfway across the country not knowing who the head coach may be when they arrive on campus.
The best case scenario here may be seeing Penn State get off to a hot start this season and removing the interim tag from Ferry. At the very least, that would provide some stability to sell to prospects in the trail.
It seems highly unlikely Ferry will be named the full-time head coach after the national search next spring.
It would seem that all Ferry and his staff will be able to do is try to sell some marginal or underrated recruits on the values of Penn State University as a whole, since big-time recruits won’t want much to do with the program until they have some idea who will be coaching it, what system will be run and what the plan is for the future.
Making matters potentially even worse, the NCAA is expected to pass new legislation in January that will allow football and basketball players to transfer one time without the penalty of having to sit out a year, thereby making them immediately eligible at the new school.
It’s possible — perhaps even likely — that one or more of Penn State’s best players this season could decide to transfer after the season and go elsewhere, to a stronger program where the future isn’t so cloudy.
This is a dangerous time for the Penn State program, which faces the possibility of a big dropoff that will take several years to overcome, much the same as it took Chambers to build the program after taking over a very thin roster after Ed DeChellis left following the 2011 NCAA Tournament appearance.
Chambers spent years building up PSU’s pipeline in Philadelphia, and it paid off with outstanding recruits such as Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens.
Now, that pipeline has been broken.
All recruiting pipelines are broken and will have to be reassembled by the next head coach.
That’s going to take some time — a good bit of time most likely — meaning that there could be some lean years coming up for the Lions.