James Franklin has a knack for getting under the skin of the traditional powers in the SEC.
As head coach at Vanderbilt from 2011-13, he transformed the Commodores from a perennial doormat into a program the rest of the SEC had to take seriously for the first time in decades. And he didnt mind taking good-natured verbal jabs at the power programs while doing so, even calling Alabama coach Nick Saban Nicky Satan one time (he later apologized for the comment).
Now the head coach at Penn State, Franklin is still proving to be the proverbial thorn in the side of the SEC. This summer, Franklin and his staff will work (but not run) camps at Georgia State (in Atlanta) and Stetson (near Orlando), and he is completely upfront when saying a primary reason is to extend the Nittany Lions recruiting reach into the South.
Our thought was the Big Ten and NCAA rules allow you to do these things, Franklin explained recently. We want to not only have camps on our campus -- which were gonna have a bunch of them -- but also be able to take the Penn State brand to a part of the country where young men and their families wouldnt be able to make it to our place, (and) take it to them.
SEC coaches are now crying foul. Of course, that may have something to do with the fact that the SEC has a rule prohibiting its coaching staffs from doing exactly what PSUs is -- namely, serving as guest coaches at camps held by other schools.
"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."
Georgias Mark Richt has been among the more vocal opponents of Penn States approach.
To me, what I'm seeing is a loophole in that if another school sponsors a camp -- Georgia Camp featuring Penn State coaches -- or some Division II schools in Texas featuring Oklahoma's coaches or Oklahoma State's coaches or Texas' coaches and then just barnstorming all around the place, Richt told the Associated Press. The rule says that everybody's camp should be on their own institution, so it's basically people finding a way around that rule. We think the rule was set for a reason and it ought to stay that way.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze told ESPN.com, 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.
According to ESPN.com, SEC coaches have asked commissioner Mike Silve to act on the matter. It is not clear what recourse he might have.
It's the kind of thing that gets us to think about our rules, Silve told ESPN.com. They [SEC coaches] like our rule; they don't like the so-called satellite camps. They see it as a loophole and asked us to see what we can do about that.
Though still impacted by NCAA sanctions stemming from the Sandusky scandal, Penn State currently has the nations second-ranked recruiting class. Alabama ranks No. 1, while fellow SEC programs Auburn (No. 3), Texas A&M (No. 4), LSU (No. 6) and Georgia (No. 9) are also in the top 10.