Franklin on SEC Camp Beefs

Penn State coach not sure why the program's new camp approach has become newsworthy.

Penn State football kicked off its summer camp season with a one-day session for roughly 200 high school players at its sprawling complex Sunday.

Now first-year head coach James Franklin and his staff are hitting the road. They will work a camp at Georgia State in Atlanta Tuesday and then bus overnight to Stetson near Orlando to work a camp there Wednesday.

Thursday, they will be in Detroit to help with the Sound Mind Sound Body Football Academy.

This is the first year a Nittany Lion staff is hitting the road to work camps, and Franklin has made no secret that he and his assistants are doing it for recruiting purposes.

“For us, it’s about creating opportunities,” he said. The idea is to allow prospects in the talent-rich states of Georgia and Florida to meet the PSU staff without having to schedule expensive unofficial visits to Happy Valley.

But the approach has drawn criticism from certain folks in the SEC, who are crying foul because that conference does not allow coaches to work camps at other schools. Georgia’s Mark Richt and Mississippi’s Hugh Freeze have both been publicly critical of Penn State taking its act on the road, and SEC commissioner Mike Silve told ESPN.com that the approach is “the kind of thing that gets us to think about our rules.”

Sunday, Franklin had a chance to address the criticism for the first time.

“I’m shocked that this is a question that came up,” he said with a smile.

“Number one, there’s rules in place, and we’re gonna follow the rules,” he continued. “If you look, there’s teams around this country that have been doing this for maybe close to 10 years. And for whatever reason, we do it this year and it’s made national headlines. I don’t know why it’s made such big news this year.”

"For whatever reason, we do it this year and it's made national headlines. I don't know why it's made such big news this year."

The gripes from SEC country probably had a little something to do with the story generating national headlines. Asked if he was surprised by the criticism, Franklin — who spent the past three seasons at Vanderbilt — sidestepped the question.

“I’m excited that we’re able to create the opportunity to come to Penn State for kids that are not in this region, or maybe would not have the opportunity to come here otherwise,” he said.

When another reporter tried to ask a similar question, Franklin smiled again and said, “You guys are just going to keep asking me this question until I answer it the way you want me to answer it.”

But he never said anything negative about his former SEC coaching brethren. He did, however, admit that all of the reporting on the subject has amounted to free publicity for the camp.

“I love the fact that it’s made national headlines, because that just helps us,” Franklin said.


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