Big Ten rivalry for area recruits on the rise

Maryland football coach Randy Edsall (right) with Big Ten commissioner James Delany.
Maryland football coach Randy Edsall (right) with Big Ten commissioner James Delany. (PATRICK SEMANSKY / AP)
Posted: July 31, 2014

CHICAGO - After he arrived at a charity golf tournament last month near York, Pa., Maryland coach Randy Edsall was asked about a statement from James Franklin in which Penn State's rookie head coach talked of how a six-hour radius from Happy Valley would be considered in-state for recruiting.

It just so happens that the home of the Terrapins, College Park, Md., is within that radius, but Edsall appeared to be in no mood for a geography lesson.

"We're not going to boast and brag," Edsall said in his initial reaction. He ended by saying, "Talk is cheap."

Franklin struck a nerve with both Maryland and Rutgers, the Nittany Lions' newest rivals in the Big Ten starting this season, when he spoke of recruiting. He later clarified his remarks that any area within six hours of his campus would receive the same approach, resources and manpower in recruiting.

Maybe the philosophy is working. Six players from New Jersey, three from Maryland, and one from the Virginia side of D.C. are part of Franklin's 2015 recruiting class, which is ranked fifth by ESPN.com. The Rutgers and Maryland classes are not in ESPN.com's top 40.

Still, the Nittany Lions' coach doesn't want any malicious fallout from recruiting or anything else that would detract from the renewed rivalries with the Scarlet Knights or the Terrapins.

"Some fans and media, they want that - a nasty, toxic relationship," Franklin said Tuesday at Big Ten Football Media Days. "I don't think it needs to be that way.

"I think there will be a rivalry because you're going to have fan bases that cross over and see each other every single day and are talking and wearing gear from their schools. So those things are going to happen. But I think it can be a really cool positive for us."

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood, like Edsall, said it's a matter of sticking with what he does in recruiting and that the process doesn't change now that he's in a new conference with Penn State.

"We have a recruiting footprint," Flood said. "They have a recruiting footprint. At the end of the day, they can take 25, and we can take 25. There's a lot more really talented football players in that footprint than that.

"So I think the battle is ultimately going to be: Who are the right players for his program? Who are the right players for our program? Certainly there are some that we both want. It's going to happen. But that's OK. We welcome that."

Edsall, a graduate of Susquehannock High School in south-central Pennsylvania, said the fact that fans follow recruiting will contribute to the rivalry's growth.

"I think it will because we're bordering states," he said. "You're going to go head to head recruiting guys, so you're going to have that factor to deal with. Plus, you're going to have the factor of what takes place on the field."

Asked about Franklin's earlier remarks, Edsall said: "I'm just a firm believer in that. I'm not going to say a whole lot. I've always been brought up and taught that your actions will speak louder than your words."

Edsall said he just met Franklin for the first time here this week. Flood has a relationship with the Penn State coach and appreciated the fact that while Franklin was at Vanderbilt, "he was the first sitting head coach who congratulated me when I got the [Rutgers] job."

For Franklin's part, he'd like to get along with everyone.

"I want to be able to be friends with these guys," he said. "I'm going to end up competing with these guys on Saturdays, and it's going to be heated on game day. But it doesn't need to be like that the other 365 days of the year."

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