There will be no bowl games, but from a competitive standpoint, this season and next might not differ too much in many ways from what Penn State fans have come to expect over the years.
The big change, the one that could be a major blow to the Nittany Lions' ability to compete on the field, will come in 2014 when the scholarship limit drops from 85 to 65.
It will remain at that heavily reduced number for four years because of NCAA sanctions, and so every time PSU takes the field against a Division I opponent, it will do so with 23.5 percent fewer scholarship players.
"Clearly that's a competitive disadvantage," coach Bill O'Brien acknowledged Friday at Big Ten media days in Chicago.
Just how big of a disadvantage remains to be seen.
The coaching staff will try to go after as many top recruits as possible - the ones they believe would actually consider taking on the Penn State situation anyway - but they'll have to be very careful with their scholarship offers and can't miss on their targets.
Penn State has had many players who started their careers as walk-ons before emerging as significant contributors. Three of the most recent are current quarterback Matt McGloin, former receiver Deon Butler (who started off as a defensive back) and linebacker Josh Hull. Butler and Hull are in the NFL.
That will only be part of the battle, though.
The other aspect will be finding a huge number of talented walk-ons - up to 40 each year to fill out the roster - who not just might be able to play in the Big Ten, but would at least be good enough to compete at a high level in practice so they can push the starters to become the best players possible.
Where will those players come from?
"You can look at the state of Pennsylvania and high school football in Pennsylvania and say, OK, look, here are these kids that are good students, high-character kids that have some redeeming qualities as football players and they don't have to pay a ton to go to Penn State," O'Brien said.
It may not be a ton, but it's still expensive.
For an in-state student, projected costs for tuition, fees, room, meals and books for one year at the University Park campus is $27,714, according to the school's online tuition calculator.
That's $110,856 over four years.
For an out-of-state student, it's $40,016 per year, or $160,064 for four years.
O'Brien is counting on the allure of playing for Penn State to attract talented players as walk-ons.
"To come play for Penn State in front of 108,000 people, and then have the opportunity to come in and play well to maybe earn a scholarship one or two years in, to me that should be very appealing to a Pennsylvania high school player," he said.
Those are great selling points.
The downside is the players will have to pay for school themselves and will have no guarantee of earning a scholarship.
The type of players Penn State likely will recruit as walk-ons will have a tough decision.
If they're good enough to play at PSU, they'll probably be good enough to earn at least a partial scholarship to one of the state's many Division II schools in the PSAC or in Division I-AA, such as the Patriot League, which is now offering football scholarships.
Those high school kids and their families will have to decide if living the dream of walking on at PSU and maybe seeing some playing time in hopes of earning a scholarship would mean more to them than the education and football experiences they could get free or drastically reduced at a smaller program.
"I haven't really thought too much about what schools we would be competing with [in recruiting]," O'Brien said. "I think it's just more about what we would be able to offer a kid at Penn State."
O'Brien and his staff also will face logistical challenges of the 65-scholarship limit. Balancing out the roster and making sure the right amount of scholarships are set aside for each position can be difficult with 85 scholarships, and having only 65 will offer other difficulties.
"Say you have in your secondary, you've got five scholarship players and two of them are seniors. OK, so how many DBs are you going to offer the next year?" O'Brien said. "Well, with 85 maybe it was you could offer 10 to get four. Well, now maybe it's offer five to get two. So you've just got to keep mixing and matching the numbers."
O'Brien said he doesn't plan to call the players walk-ons but rather will come up with some other distinction.
Like with everything else during this tough situation, he's not lamenting how difficult it will be to compete with 65 scholarship players, but instead he's trying to focus on all the potential positives within the program.
"You can sit there and just talk about what a disadvantage that is all day, or you can just grab it by the neck" and deal with it, he said. "So that's what we're doing."
(Note: Story updated 12:55 a.m.)