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Penn State Football: Poaching Players a Divisive Issue for Big Ten Coaches

by on July 27, 2012 6:00 AM

CHICAGO — It's open season on the Penn State roster.

Any player can choose to transfer by the start of preseason practice 2013 and immediately be eligible. Additionally, opposing schools can recruit any Penn State player as long as they merely give the university's compliance department notice.

"What I said to our coaches [Thursday] morning, you know, I get it; this is what the rules are," Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said. "And I expect you to operate in a way that makes not sense just under the rules but sense to you as adults and grownups, so that if a player is interested in talking to you or has an interest in your university, so be it."

So, where do Big Ten coaches stand on poaching Penn State players? Let's take roll call.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema: "When this thing came about, and obviously a very unprecedented situation, of course when you're sitting at the head table of your staff room and assistant coaches have a lot of different
opinions, I made the decision as a head coach we would not reach out to any Penn State players.

"It's just something — I think that what Penn State is going through right now is something that they have championed over the last several days and the last several weeks. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach O'Brien and everything that he's going forward."

Purdue coach Danny Hope: "NCAA has established the rules and the guidelines and obviously because they're strong from an ethics standpoint, and as long as we're compliant, we're going to exercise every opportunity we can to enhance our own football team."

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer: "I have a problem with that. I have a problem with that.

"But as a player, a young man has a right to play wherever he wants to play. We have to keep that in mind. However, when he's part of a team, you're getting into a situation that I'm not quite very familiar with, and we're not going to get very familiar with it."

Illinois coach Tim Beckman: "We were in State College, but we did not go on campus. We went to two establishments outside campus and called some individuals and if they wanted to come by, it was their opportunity to come by.

"We're just following the rules of the NCAA. We provided Penn State with the names of the people that — prior to us even going there. Our compliance coordinator, Ryan Squire, and Mike Thomas, our athletic director gave him a list of people that — so that they were aware of, before we got there, of who those individuals might be."

Indiana coach Kevin Wilson: "The one rule that I don't understand is how I can oversign and some team have more than 85 guys on scholarship and other teams don't have that right. That's a competitive advantage to another school.

"As far as reaching out, I see it as a kid wanting to transfer. If that kid wants to transfer, he'll contact you. I don't feel like contacting those guys. We're working on our program, our team."

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill: "We're not going to do anything to go see players. We don't have enough time to do those kind of things. We've got to concentrate on our football team and our football program. And if a young man called us from Penn State or whatever, we'd do the proper procedures."

Michigan coach Brady Hoke: "To be honest with you, we kind of made a decision — I'd be lying if I didn't say we didn't look at the roster to some degree — but we've kind of made a decision that we're going to stay and recruit the guys and keep our business our business."

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini: "We're not actively pursuing any Penn State players. We're concentrating on our football team, the guys on our program. And, now, that isn't to say that if there is a young man from Penn State who definitely wanted to transfer and was for sure going to leave and Nebraska was someplace that he was considering, that we wouldn't take a look at him to see if it made sense for our program."

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio: "I don't think there's any winners when you speak to that entire situation. But at the same time, acknowledge that we have a program that we have to run and try and get better. And so what we have done is if people have contacted us, a coach, a parent, we've followed through. And that's the extent of it.

"I'm not going to say who or how many approached us or their high school coach or those type of things."

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz: "The thing I would say about the whole situation, I think it's really complex right now and very confusing, quite frankly, just what the rules are. So I think first and foremost, everybody needs to be compliant. I think after that, it's a matter of people doing what they feel is appropriate. And that's what we try to do as much as possible. We'll try to continue to do the same moving forward."

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald: "From our standpoint, we met as a staff — we actually watched the press conference as a staff. I've got a lot of young coaches on my staff. And I wanted them to watch President Emmert as he talked about the feelings of the NCAA, and I wanted to use it as an opportunity to educate and help our staff grow from the standpoint of the understanding and the expectations that we have professionally.

"Once that was over, we had a very short and brief discussion as a coaching staff that, number one, we're excited about our team, we're focused on our team, and no way, shape, or form are we going to pursue, contact, or reach out to Penn State University."

Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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