Right now, the Nittany Lions are one of four in the Big Ten in the top-25, and one of three in the top 10. (The full poll is below) But if we expand the perimeters and look beyond the current Big Ten, and look at the future conference, it’s exciting from a conference perspective.

Future Big Ten teams, USC, Washington and Oregon are all ranked inside the top-15. If we look at today’s poll, with next season’s alignment changes, the Big Ten’s 6 top-15 teams would be the most in football. From a football competition standpoint, the additions of Oregon, USC, Washington and UCLA are massive wins. But it’s going to take some getting used to seeing these formal Rose Bowl foes in the conference standings. Even Penn State head coach James Franklin is a little sad to see the landscape he grew up on change so drastically.

“It’s somewhat sad in some ways, not that these people are being added to our conference,” Franklin said. “It’s very different than the college football that we all grew up with, not really college football, college athletics, where at least for most of the year it was pretty regional.”

Realignment is most certainly not done, the ACC is looking at adding Cal and Stanford according to reports Monday. But it’s just one-way college football has evolved in recent years. The transfer portal and NIL have been leading factors.

“There’s probably been more changes in the last five years than the previous 50,” Franklin added. “And I don’t think it’s close.”

Coach Franklin spoke candidly on the subject Sunday during Penn State football’s media day. While being clear that he was not “anti-student-athlete,” Franklin said he believed that some of the change had gone too far, in particular the transfer portal.

“Do I think the players should have options and choices? Yes. Do I think the coaches should have been able to restrict student athletes from transferring anywhere that the coach didn’t want them to transfer to? No,” Franklin said. “But I think we could have gotten to more of a middle ground rather than from one extreme to where we are now.”

Franklin used a pendulum analogy as he went deeper into the topic. You can see hear his full comments in the video above. But the analogy falls apart if you’re expecting the pendulum to swing back.

It’s hard to see a world where the proverbial cat is going back into the bag. It’s hard to picture a world where the NCAA finds a common ground on the portal or finds a way the regulate NIL. But similarly, it’s hard to imagine college athletics stabilizing any time soon as super leagues, player unions, and further conference consolidation are very real changes appearing on the horizon.

For the moment, Penn State sits in a winning position in arguably the best and most powerful conference in college sports, but how long will the Big Ten be at the top of the leaderboard? Your guess is as good as any.

Full USA Today/ Coaches Poll

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan
  3. Alabama
  4. Ohio State
  5. LSU
  6. USC
  7. Penn State
  8. Florida State
  9. Clemson
  10. Tennessee
  11. Washington
  12. Texas
  13. Notre Dame
  14. Utah
  15. Oregon
  16. TCU
  17. Kansas State
  18. Oregon State
  19. Oklahoma
  20. North Carolina
  21. Wisconsin
  22. Ole Miss
  23. Tulane
  24. Texas Tech
  25. Texas A&M