To the surprise of no one, the first day of the Big Ten Media days has been largely focused on questions surrounding Penn State. The issues addressed to coaches during their 15-minute press conferences have been about the recruiting of PSU’s players first, other questions second. Most media personal are concerned with whether or not each coach is actively recruiting Penn State players.
When Urban Meyer of Ohio State was asked “Do you have a problem with coaches being able to solicit players from Penn State right now?”, he replied by confidently staring into the wide jaws of the media and said, “I have a problem with that. I have a problem with that.”
Each and every coach was immediately asked if they were actively pursuing Penn State players. Coach Bret Bielema (Wisconsin), Urban Meyer (Ohio State), Brady Hoke (Michigan), Kevin Wilson (Indiana), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Jerry Kill (Minnesota), Bo Pelini (Nebraska), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), and Kirk Ferentz (Iowa) were all on the same page in response to the barrage of Penn State questions.
The majority of coaches noted that the 2012 season is looming and their respective programs simply don’t have time to delve into the issues taking place at Penn State. On the other side of the ball, coaches Tim Beckman and Danny Hope of Illinois and Purdue likened to the fact that recruiting those players is not in violation of any rules set by the NCAA or the conference.
Beckman confirmed reports that part of his staff was, in fact, in State College, but he assured media that they did not enter campus. Illinois’ coaches met with an undetermined number of Penn State players at two locations off campus. Unlike the other coaches reactions to the questions, Beckman did not shy away from the fact that Illinois has interest in players from Penn State. When Beckman was asked if he or any of his staff had a chance to speak with Bill O’Brien or any of his staff, Beckman replied, “Great question. Of course, this morning we met as head football coaches and athletic directors. I spoke with Coach O’Brien, but not in depth, about that situation.”
When Bill O’Brien took the stand, I asked him if he had a chance to speak with Beckman regarding his staff showing up in Happy Valley. His response was swift and stern, “No.” The two stories don’t quite link up, but it’s clear that Beckman is in the minority by confirming that he is actively pursuing players who are eligible for transfer.
All coaches expressed their respect and gratitude towards the way that Penn State is handling their situation, but Beckman addressed the fact that he still has a job to do. Most coaches said they would be willing to discuss transfer possibilities with these players if they reached out to their respective program while Beckman seems to be the one extending his hand. Sometimes, you don’t know the door is unlocked until someone opens it. Beckman is kicking it down. All is fair in B1G football.
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