Does LSU Football's Self-Imposed Penalties Affect Recruiting?

Tigers can take a number of different approaches to loss in scholarships

As the Tigers prepare for life without Myles Brennan this week, the news has shifted a bit as it was reported on Wednesday by Sports Illustrated that LSU has inflicted self-imposed penalties against the football team. It comes on the heels of a two-year long investigation by the NCAA into three separate infractions by the football program. 

The penalties against the program include a reduction of eight scholarships spread out over the next two years and a disassociation from wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for two years, after he was seen handing out money to football players following the Tigers' 42-25 national championship win in January. 

Coach Ed Orgeron was asked on Wednesday during his weekly coaches show about the investigation and how LSU can move forward in recruiting. 

"You know, anything involved with the NCAA, I'm not allowed to comment on. And I can't comment on it until it's finally done. And I'll just leave it at that," Orgeron said. 

LSU is hoping that the NCAA won't tack on additional penalties to the football program, like potentially a postseason ban, but those are conversations that’ll be had down the road. The immediate consequences for the infractions will directly affect recruiting and the Tigers can approach this from a number of different angles. 

First and foremost, it's important to note that LSU just has to reduce the number of scholarships by four in 2021 and 2022 so this can be handled a few different ways. Football programs are allowed to have 85 players on scholarship so getting down to 81 is the magic number.

LSU can elect to cut four scholarships on its current roster, allowing the program to sign 25 players in this class. The 2021 class currently has 18 committed players so the program could also elect to sign only three more players to the class. 

Maason Smith, Sage Ryan, Korey Foreman, Brian Thomas and Tristan Leigh are all high priority uncommitted recruits who are all considering the purple and gold. 

LSU is also off to a fantastic start to its 2022 class, receiving commitments from quarterback Walker Howard, cornerback Khamauri Rogers, safeties Bryan Allen and Bryce Anderson, defensive tackle Shone Washington, guard Lucas Taylor and receiver Decoldest Crawford.

In the meantime, current quarterback commit Garrett Nussmeier and linebacker Raesjon Davis are doing everything they can to lure as many top talents to the class as possible.

"We all talk about it to be honest, we think it's important that we're all doing our part to get more players to come play with us," Nussmeier told LSUCountry in September. "Rae does a good job of recruiting his butt off on the west coast and I think all of the other recruits do a great job as well. There's always a name being thrown around in the group chat because we want those uncommitted guys to know that this class is a family and when they commit, they're a part of us."

Of course, LSU could also decide to split the difference, by electing to sign only 22 or 23 players to reduce the amount of cut scholarships on the current roster. 

Keep in mind, LSU didn't come close to signing the full 25 prospects in 2020, leaving a few grad transfer spots open eventually filled by Liam Shanahan, Jabril Cox and Darren Evans. 

It's not the best look on potential future recruits if the Tigers decide to eliminate scholarships currently on the roster. But this is another unprecedented situation Orgeron and the coaching staff have been put in. 

The athletic department wants to get out in front of this sticky situation it now finds itself in. If that means making recruiting a little more difficult in the immediate future, that's a small price to pay. But if the NCAA elects to add additional penalties, which is certainly a possibility, it could prove to be a crippling outcome.