CHICAGO -- One of the worst parts of the annual press crush known as Big Ten Media Days is when reporters who are a bit … well … enthusiastic about a certain team attempt to ask questions of a coach from one of that team's rivals.
We're not talking honest questions from a beat writer covering one team directed toward the coach of another, but clearly loaded queries that display some form of bias.
And so it was for the second-straight year for Penn State's James Franklin Friday, as he once again found himself fielding awkward questions from a reporter from Ohio. It happened to be the exact same reporter who did a very similar thing a year ago at this event -- which Franklin eventually realized.
The man in question, who shall remain nameless in this space since we get the sense he was trying to draw attention to himself, first approached Franklin this year during the coach's time at a podium in the interview room.
The fact that the reporter simply referred to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer as Urban was probably a hint that he was not the most neutral person working in the room.
You've had more than a year of going up against Urban for guys, he said. What's it kind of been like since the improvement in the personalities and things out there. Have you noticed anything different about trying to get certain players? And can you give maybe some insight to what's it like going against a guy like (Michigan's Jim) Harbaugh and Urban?
Franklin was diplomatic, saying he looked at it more as Penn State having a tremendous product to sell and took the opportunity to basically give a recruiting pitch.
Later at the podium, the same reporter said, Could you speak to maybe the talent in Ohio, and how much you guys maybe won't emphasize that state in the future? Franklin, of course, said, Oh no, we will. If you look at our recruiting right now we're doing a good job there.
As the reporter asked more and more recruiting questions -- a couple of which actually made sense -- Franklin picked up on the frequent mentions of Ohio State and Ohio, and realized it was the same guy from a year earlier. That's when, you may recall, the reporter asked the then first-year PSU coach if he had a little Urban in you.
So Friday, Franklin proceeded to kid the reporter about wearing the same shirt this year.
Ha, ha. Everyone figured that was the end of it.
But the podium session was followed by a round-table interview setup. And on the very last question(s), Mr. Ohio piped up again.
This time, the questions were just strange. Neither Franklin nor anyone else at the table seemed to understand what was being asked -- other than there were even more references to Ohio State (though no more mentions of Urban).
Pittsburgh's a very interesting area in that there's Pitt, there's you guys and there's Ohio State all within driving distance, the reporter said.
Franklin added West Virginia to the mix. Then the question continued.
Who's the hometown school there? Because there's a lot of talent there. You know, I mean, it's like Columbus, if Ohio State recruits Columbus. If you're recruiting certain areas. I mean, is there like a home
Franklin looked puzzled. I don't understand what you're saying.
So the question painfully continued. We'll go ahead and paraphrase this part, because quoting would be near impossible. The reporter asked about top-five recruits. Franklin asked if he meant in Pennsylvania. The reporter said he meant in Pittsburgh. Franklin indicated Pittsburgh is in the state of Pennsylvania and Penn State is the state school of Pennsylvania.
Then this gem from the reporter.
So they should go to you?
What coach in is right mind would say no to that question?
Paraphrasing again, Franklin said of course he feels that way. And the coaches he's going against should feel that way, too.
Just when it seemed the exercise in futility was over, the reporter came back for more.
Let me rephrase, he began, and everyone at the table looked like they were about to lose the boxed lunch they ate earlier in the day.
How interesting is it recruiting that area, since there's a lot of like, I mean, is it different are there certain challenges to recruiting Pittsburgh that you might not face in other cities in Pittsburgh I mean in Pennsylvania?
Mercifully, Franklin took over. Because by this point, even his well-rehearsed recruiting pitches were easier on the ears than more of the brutal questions. He pointed out that he loves the entire state and has said so since he arrived at PSU in 2014.
But then -- incredibly -- the reporter talked AGAIN.
I ask because Ohio State, since they got in and they went in and got Terrelle Pryor, they've tried I know it's a new coaching staff, a new regime now. But it's an emphasis for them, it feels like in the region. I just wonder what it's like to try to play defense or offense, depending on how you take it against a program like that in your area?
Mercifully, the questions came to an end.
All I can speak about is Penn State, and we look at the entire state being our home, Franklin said. Which I think we should. I think we have every right to do that.
Check out the vídeo above to see it go down. And pay close attention to what is said after the formal press conferences.