Penn State is two coaches removed from Joe Paterno, the legendary figure who was removed during the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the school during the 2011 football season, but it still feels the effects on the recruiting trail. Head coach James Franklin gave an interview to the Reading Eagle, and named four specific power programs, three of whom Penn State shares a division with, that still use the Sandusky scandal to negatively recruit against the Nittany Lions.
Q: Where do you see the program in 2018?
A: 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... 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.
Franklin reiterates this later in the interview.
Q: How would you describe the challenge of being in the same division with Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State?
A: Like most things in life, there are some real positives about it. We're able to tell kids they're going to compete against the very highest level week in and week out. What makes it tricky, they're not having to deal with some of the things we're dealing with and working through, which magnifies it. Those programs as well as others know that and use that against us. We have that conversation with every single prospect. We don't usually initiate it, but it's coming from somewhere.
It's not a huge surprise that schools would negatively recruit against PSU, that happens all across the landscape. Seeing Franklin drop the names of specific programs is pretty interesting though. You don't see coaches go into specifics like that too often, Jim Harbaugh aside.