There are no statistics, of course, which say, definitively, that Bucknell wasn't totally using their grant-in-aid money to effectively scholarship football players last season. (None, except the fact that Bucknell hasn't won a Patriot League football title since 1997.)
But with the prospect of conventional scholarships came the prospect of a different type of recruit becoming attracted to the delights of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. (Delights which escaped me during my "recruiting" trip there, but I digress.)
Did it work? Is there a significant boost in the type of athletes headed to Bucknell? And was the net result a Patsy Point haul that reflects this?
The answer is: Sorta.
Yes, there was a boost. But it didn't net to a huge boost in Patsy Points from year-to-year.
The early returns show that football scholarships have made a difference in terms of the quality of recruits that are headed to Kansas (the part of the Keystone State that is hitherto defined as the expanse between Lehigh and Duquesne). The linemen seem bigger. More future Bucknellians are a part of the recruiting websites. In this sense, there's more to be excited about this coming season Christy Matthewson stadium - there simply seems to be more there.
In the past, larger roster sizes and grants-in-aid allowed more athletes to suit up for the Bison. With this smaller class, though, you have to wonder if this brave new world will hurt the Buffaloes in the one area where they weren't before - depth.
While there seems to be a upward bump in quality, this doesn't seem like a particularly deep class, either, which feels like a concern. The margin for error is slight. With large incoming classes, the odds were greater that a kid like DT Robert De La Rosa could come out of nowhere to become a first team all-Patriot defenseman. Those days are now over, as this smallish, 19-recruit class shows. There's a lot less runway for mistakes.
Ironically, it could be argued that the fact that Bucknell's class is so much smaller in terms of depth means their Patsy Point haul is actually less than their "haul" from last year's class (which was 53). Not a lot smaller, but smaller. And this matters.
Perhaps this is just the first step in getting the Bison their first championship since 1997. Then again, this is the fourth consecutive year that Bison fans have been saying that this is their first step in getting that championship.
QUALITY = 23. 10/18, or 55%, of Bucknell's recruits had a page with the national recruiting websites. Three Bison were two star recruits, and one was "confirmed".
This begs the question - how does this "scholarship" class compare to the "pre-scholarship" era in terms of Bison recruiting? For Bucknell, this is an especially interesting question. Pre-scholarships, Bucknell was largely seen as offering mostly need-based aid. Post-scholarships, they've promised to be one of the schools that offer the conventional variety.
Peeking at last year's numbers, the Buffaloes had a "quality" rating of 15, which included one solitary "questionable" two-star recruit (not my words). By this year-to-year measure - and believe me, it leaves a lot to be desired - you can answer a qualified "yes" to the fact the Bucknell has improved their "quality" with scholarships. No "questionable" starred recruits appear here in this class, and the Buffaloes have expanded their numbers in that area.
CLASS SIZE = 2. 18 Recruits. Our first case where a smaller scholarship class harms the Patsy Ratings, achieving only the base number of Patsy Points and getting one critical point less than both Colgate and Lafayette.
DISTRIBUTION = 7. Again, our first case in the post-scholarship world where one position was left unrecruited - linebacker.
SPEED = 3. A very tough number for the Buffaloes, as speed information, already sketchy, was especially hard to find for Bucknell's incoming recruits.
TRIGGER = 2. Two QBs, and one rated 2 stars, is exactly the type of Patsy point production that Bucknell's incoming class needs. As has been pointed out, starred quarterback recruits are very, very friendly to the Patsy ratings.
JUMBO = 7. 5 OL and 3 DL. 2 out of the 3 DL meet the Jumbo criteria, and all five of the new Bison offensive linemen pre-qualify as Buffaloes, hitting the criteria with ease. One comes to Lewisburg already at 300 lbs.
The Committee was literally ready to get all excited about Bucknell's jumbo number when a member quietly reminded the Chairman of last year's Bison Patsy Ratings, and the year before that. Both have plenty of Jumbo linemen. Matter of fact, the more you look at these numbers, their resemblance to the pre-scholarship years is downright uncanny.
NEEDS = 6 (of 12):
DL = 1 (of 5). About the only thing that was unanimous between the Committee and the Bucknell fans was the Bison need for more defensive linemen. While the Buffaloes picked up a couple big bodies, though, only one was rated at all in an area where they needed to hit a home run. By any measure, it wasn't.
DB = 2 (of 4). Similarly, coach Susan spent a lot of recruiting capital in the secondary, pulling in four recruits. Only half had the basic "I exist" page on the recruiting websites. Again, the fans wanted a home run in this category. It was a single, no more.
QB = 3 (of 3). There was some debate as to the final "need" area for the Bison, whether it was quarterback, with the need for the signalcaller of the future after next years' projected graduation of senior QB Brandon Wesley, or offensive line, where there are plenty of underclassman bodies manning the trenches but a need for, well, more of them.
In the end, it wouldn't have mattered as the Buffaloes met both "needs" easily with quality and quantity in both areas. Quarterback was seen as the primary "need", and again, with a 2 star recruit and another athlete that has a page on the major recruiting websites, they get the full allotment.
COMMITTEE ADJUSTMENT: +1. The Committee felt that the "needs" area for the Bison were, to be frank, one giant cluster.
Obviously a team that was 3-8 last season will have a lot of needs, and normally, the Committee's policy is to assume that the Committee knows nothing of a team's needs and the true, hard-core fans have a much better view of their team. So when the fans list four needs, and one almost as an afterthought, what's a Committee to do? Make a decision to exclude one of them? As anyone following the Patriot League knows all too well, making decisions is not the Committee's forte.
The +1 adjustment comes into play here for the "fourth" need area for the Buffaloes. On the offensive line, they not only met their needs, they nabbed two 2-star recruits. That's a very significant haul.
It's not the same as a "fourth need area" being the equivalent of two Patsy Points, but it's a single bonus point for hitting upon a need area that was at least mentioned by the fans. (Not only that, the need was met very, very well, which lends one to believe that Mr. Susan's memo on recruiting goals to their fans might have been lost in the Lewisburg post office.)
BUCKNELL - 51