UNIVERSITY PARK - News broke late Monday night indicating running back Silas Redd is considering transferring to USC, and that the school has notified Penn State that it is recruiting the standout junior.
All day Monday, questions surfaced about how many Nittany Lion players would take the NCAA up on its offer of being able to transfer to another school and play immediately. The first hint of that didn't come until about 10:30 p.m. Monday when ESPN's Joe Schad reported the news about Redd.
Just like it did when SMU received the death penalty in 1987, the NCAA stipulated in Penn State's punishment that all football players could transfer to a Division I school and be eligible to play without sitting out the customary one year.
Redd was asked by reporters upon leaving a team meeting Monday morning if he was planning to stay at Penn State. Like every other player leaving the meeting, Redd remained silent as he stared straight ahead while walking to his car.
He is expected to attend Big Ten media days later this week in Chicago, where he can address the transfer speculation.
Even the most talkative PSU players, such as Matt McGloin, remained quiet after meeting with coach Bill O'Brien in the Lasch Building on Monday. Several were asked if they were told not to speak, but none answered.
Senior linebacker Michael Mauti looked mad, with anger dripping from his face as he exited the Lasch Building about an hour after the NCAA handed down its severe sanctions.
There's good reason for Mauti's anger, along with every other current Penn State player.
These players, innocent bystanders in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, went through incredible adversity at the end of last season, and Monday most of them learned of one disappointing reality: They will never be able to play in another bowl game as members of the Nittany Lions.
There perhaps could be a redshirt player who lasts beyond the four-year bowl ban, but given severe scholarship reductions, it could be several years after that before PSU returns to a bowl game.
There once was a lengthy period of time when every recruiting class of Joe Paterno's could boast of having one undefeated season or a chance to play for a championship. Now, there could be multiple recruiting classes that never even get a chance to play in a bowl game.
O'Brien did not speak to the media following the team meeting, but he undoubtedly spent time talking to his players about the positives of remaining at Penn State.
"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the university forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence," O'Brien said in a university statement.
The first-year coach, who has a five-year contract worth $2.3 million per season, then went on to address his future at PSU.
"I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead," he said in the statement. "But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes."
Whether Redd or other current players will remain committed to Penn State is unknown. There's not only the immediate-eligibility incentive for them to leave, there's also the incentive for other schools to swoop in and try to lure top players who can help their program immediately.
The NCAA is allowing for a smooth transfer in every way, should the players choose to leave Penn State. Even if other schools already are at their limit of 85 scholarships for this season, the NCAA will allow PSU transfers to go there, as long as that school reduces its scholarship total the following year.
Penn State players can even transfer to another Big Ten school without that program suffering any penalties.
How many, if any, players will bolt from Penn State with the season just six weeks away is anyone's guess. But if an integral, high-profile player like Redd were to leave, that could lead other key players to make the same decision.
Redd rushed for 1,241 yards and seven TDs last season as a sophomore and would be expected to make an immediate impact if he were to transfer to USC. Losing him would be a big blow for the Lions, since the second-string tailback is Bill Belton, a converted receiver.