Vanderbilt head football coach James Franklin, left, has denied improper contact with the three players who were granted their releases this week to transfer from Maryland. (Jeanne Reasonover/AP)

Maryland Coach Randy Edsall has stipulated that the three players cannot transfer on a football scholarship to Vanderbilt. Edsall has questioned whether there has been improper, premature contact between Vanderbilt coaches and the players, according to individuals familiar with the discussions between O’Brien and Edsall.

(And if you haven’t read Sally Jenkins’s column on Edsall, here it is.)

In an interview on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, Franklin, the former Maryland offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting, said: “I don’t like innuendos and comments being made about tampering and things like that. You guys know me. I am the type of guy, I am going to have relationships with my players. I hope to have relationships with the guys that play for me for the rest of my life.

“But the fact that people would make accusations that we tampered or did this or did that, again, I am just going to defend our program and defend our character and how we do things. But I think it is ridiculous to think that I am not going to have relationships with these kids after I leave places.”

Franklin said he has talked regularly with former players in the past.

“When I left [Kansas State] for Maryland, I talked to [quarterback] Josh Freeman every week,” Franklin said. “I still talk to Josh. Josh flew in for [Franklin’s 40th] birthday party. I am the type of guy, I am going to have relationships with my players.”

O’Brien is likely to appeal Edsall’s stipulation to the NCAA after he consults with his family and high school coach this weekend. O’Brien is also interested in Wisconsin, and schools such as Ole Miss, Arizona, South Florida and East Carolina have already shown considerable interest.

O’Brien was recruited by Franklin out of high school, and the prospect that Franklin would eventually become Maryland’s head coach was one of the main reasons why O’Brien chose Maryland.

O’Brien helped Franklin clean out his office the day Franklin accepted the Vanderbilt head coaching job in December 2010, after it became clear that he was unlikely to succeed Ralph Friedgen at any point as head coach.

For more on the reaction at Vanderbilt, please read this story in the Nashville Tennessean.

As this story continues to build, what is everyone’s reaction? And I apologize that I have not been able to respond to everyone’s insightful e-mails. I’ve received well over 100. I do read every one and will get back to as many as possible. Please keep them coming:



Graduate transfer rule has supporters, detractors.

Sally Jenkins: Edsall needs to right the ship.