I'm sure by now you've heard about the hammer the NCAA brought down on Penn State. Included in all the punishment was the ability for current Penn State players to transfer to another school without the typical penalty of sitting out one year. The NCAA is even allowing schools who take on Penn State players to expand their scholarship limit (although they have to be back at 85 by 2013).
If Mississippi State would be interested in any Penn State player you'd have to think it would be incoming freshman quarterback Steven Bench. He is a guy MSU recruited but never actually extended an offer to for the 2012 class. Bench is on the same talent level of Nick Schuessler - and even hails from the same state: Georgia. But after Dylan Favre left and Jeremy Liggins committed to LSU, Mullen offered Schuessler (who signed) since Bench was committed to Rice. He changed his mind though, and went to Penn State.
Since signing day, however, Nick Schuessler has left for Clemson and Penn State has been put on probation - leaving Bench with the likelihood of never playing in a bowl game or competing for anything other than regular season wins in Happy Valley.. Mississippi State does have walk-on Jamil Golden who many think is probably better than Schuessler anyway (had an offer from Arkansas but he didn't accept in time). Still, the Dawgs only have two scholarship quarterbacks and a true freshman walk-on.
Should Mullen extend an invitation to Steven Bench? He has been to Starkville. In fact, he was at a camp last summer and said, "I really like Coach Koenning at Mississippi State. He is real down to Earth, but you can tell he knows what he is talking about. He is just a great coach and he seems like a great guy." (quote via Scout.com).
There are those who may think Mississippi State should not interfere with Penn State by tampering with their players. Some have joked that Hugh Freeze has likely called every player on their roster hoping someone would say yes....and that's not what MSU is about. We don't want to pull a Coach O and try to raid Tulane's Hurricane Katrina ravaged team.
But this is different. Steven Bench and all the other players in the 2012 class did not know they were going to a school that would be hit with a 4-year postseason ban.....nor did any player on their roster. Extending an offer to Bench or any other Penn State player would not be tampering, it would be giving them a chance to get out if they want to. I don't think it would be right to hard sell Bench, but to offer him the option would be good for him to have.
Would State even need Bench? Well, they might. It's likely that if he came to Starkville it would be to redshirt in 2012, but down the road he could be useful in the same vein as Schuessler was going to be. Cord Sandberg is a huge recruit and I sure hope he ends up in maroon, but he still hasn't taken any visits to MSU - yet he did go to the Perfect Game Showcase in Minnesota. I'm not giving my hopes up, but if Mullen was to put all his eggs in Sandberg's basket and he opts for pro baseball we'd have really big quarterback depth issues.
So maybe Steven Bench is an option. I'm not trying to look for ways Mississippi State can benefit from an unfortunate situation at Penn State, but I am trying to point out that taking a look at their players isn't the wrong thing to do. A lot has been made about how the innocent players are being victimized here. Well, they are no victims...the children are. Life throws you a curveball sometimes - that is what is happening to these players....but at least they have choices - that is, if other schools are willing to give them one.