Penn State Football: SEC Coaches Want Rule Change With Franklin Back In Town
James Franklin hasn't been an SEC coach for months now, but he's still giving them fits.
Franklin and his staff will be working football camps this summer at Georgia State University in Atlanta and Stetson University in Deland, Florida. That isn't news to those following the program in the offseason but it is news for SEC coaches trying to lock down their recruiting turf.
Why? The rulebook.
On one hand the SEC doesn't allow for coaches to guest-host a camp more than 50 miles from campus. The Big Ten has similar rules but a loophole in NCAA rule 126.96.36.199 allows coaching staffs to work at other camps outside the 50-mile radius as long as they aren't considered the main host of the camp. In laymen's terms, the Big Ten lets its schools through the loophole, the SEC doesn't.
So Big Ten schools like Penn State and Iowa are doing just that -- traveling outside the usually restricted 50-miles to "guest-coach" at camps in recruiting areas of interest.
"Our thought was that the Big Ten and NCAA rules allow you to do these things," Franklin said during a caravan stop earlier this month. "And we wanted to not only have camps on our campus -- which we're going to have a bunch of them -- but also be able to maybe take the Penn State brand and be able to take it to part of the country [where] maybe young men and families wouldn't be able to make it to our place. And I'm fired up about it. It seems like the high school coaches are as well."
Unsurprisingly, the SEC isn't entirely thrilled that one of the nation's best recruiters is setting up shop in their neck of the woods. As a result coaches attending recent conference meetings are lobbying SEC commissioner Mike Silve to help make these kinds of rules the same across the board.
ESPN caught up with a handful of these coaches and there isn't any doubt how they feel about Franklin coming to town.
- "I wish it was a national rule," Ole Miss' coach Hugh Freeze said. "I don't particularly want another school in a BCS conference coming into our state and running a camp. So we would like to see our rule be a national rule. I'd love to see it be the same."
- "I think it's a rule that makes sense," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "If you're going to have a football camp ... I don't know how Penn State relates to Georgia State football camp, but for us, I think our league [rule] will make sense."
- “We all would if we could,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “We’re all going to do what you’d let us. Our point is where does it end? I don’t want to speak for everyone in the room, but from what I heard in there, most of our coaches would be in favor of at least being on an even playing field. We’d prefer to tighten up that loophole to not allow you to do camps off your campus.”
- “It would be beneficial for everybody, if everybody could do that, or nobody should do it,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “There shouldn’t be any loopholes or anything else like that. The intent of the rule was to keep an institution’s camp on the institution’s campus, and now that’s not the case.”
- “I want you to know that it’s not the right thing,” LSU coach Les Miles said.
Franklin's abilities on the recruiting trail coupled with his rising talent as a coach made every SEC coach glad to see him leave the conference and their recruiting turf.
But now he's back.