Urban Meyer addressed James Franklin’s supposed accusation of Ohio State negatively recruiting against Penn State at Big Ten Media Days.
James Franklin certainly doesn’t have the easiest job in college football. He’s the head coach of a Penn State program still in search of an identity.
Part of the to process to create said identity includes recruiting players to fit his system, his style, his program. In his first two full recruiting cycles, Franklin managed to secure a spot in the top 25. The Nittany Lions finished with the No. 13 class in 2015 and the No. 21 class in the 2016 cycle.
And in terms of 2017, Franklin seems destined for more of the same. Penn State currently sits at No. 25 in the class rankings with 10 commits.
However, as you peruse your way toward the top of the college football recruiting rankings, you’ll find Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all with more commits and higher ratings — Urban Meyer’s team being the cream of the crop at the moment with 16 total commits, a quarter of whom are 5-star recruits.
At Big Ten Media Days, Franklin stated that, while, “negative recruiting happens all over the country,” and “everybody is dealing with it,” he also alluded to the fact that, “some people choose to use” the Jerry Sandusky scandal against the current Penn State regime.
As for whether Ohio State is one of those negative recruiters, Meyer immediately shut down all notions.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “That’s a pretty strong allegation. I’ll address that with Coach Franklin if I have to.”
Mark Dantonio also spoke up about the idea his staff has negatively recruited against Penn State. Like Meyer, the Michigan State head coach denied it.
“I have not said anything negative about Penn State, and I hope our coaches haven’t, as well. I was surprised when I read that. That’s not our MO, and that’s not how we do business,” Dantonio said.
Franklin has since addressed the notion and said his comments were taken out of context.
To be fair, Franklin never specifically said Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State were negatively recruiting against his team. However, it’s not hard to read between the lines of what he did say when asked about where he sees the Penn State program in 2018.
Here’s the full quote in context:
“In a really healthy place. The one thing that I can’t predict is when there is going to be finality to everything. A month ago, I’m in Chicago at a wedding of one of my former players and the most recent things (allegations that late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was told that Sandusky abused children in the 1970s) come up. I spend all Friday and Saturday on the phone talking to all of our players because other schools are contacting them and telling them the NCAA is going to get involved again and impose more sanctions.
“I think everybody will feel really good when everything has been resolved and we can truly put this thing in our past. When I say our past, I don’t mean we just move on. We have to learn and grow from those experiences. We have to have things in place to make sure we don’t have any issues moving forward.
“I think one of the things that’s a challenge is as Penn Staters, we’re so proud and we know what we’re all about and who we are. The people we’re competing with – Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame – this is just not something they have to deal with. Although we want to move on, those other schools are not letting us move on.
“I think in so many areas we can be really, really healthy in 2018. We can be in a really good position to have the type of program everybody wants us to have. The thing that we don’t know is when is everything going to be resolved.”
Jim Harbaugh has not yet commented on the issue, but even if Franklin did want to point fingers, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
Ohio State and Michigan are still going to end up with top-10 classes by the time National Signing Day rolls around on Feb. 1. The Buckeyes’ 2017 class will likely end up being a historic one with four 5-star pledges already on board.
Michigan State will be hanging around as a top-20 class, and there is still a chance Penn State can move up, too. It’s not impossible. A big commit here or a big commit there can launch the Nittany Lions up the rankings.
While the victim card plays, it’s certainly a fine like that Franklin is walking. Penn State likely does face its share of negative recruiting; however alluding to conference rivals only to then backtrack makes it look like more sour grapes than a grievance with any substance.
Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.
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