CHICAGO — Penn State Coach James Franklin was one of the main attractions Monday at the Big Ten Media Days –and the former Maryland assistant was quite frank in his assessment of the Terps joining the conference. Just several months after he started a war of words with Randy Edsall after declaring that his approach to recruiting in Maryland was “in-state,” Franklin addressed the controversy in front of a media horde.
“I probably said a few things that I shouldn’t have said because I’m trying to get our fans excited,” Franklin said. “I do think there is a regional aspect to it, there’s no doubt about it … I think they’re a great addition for the conference as a whole, on a lot of different reasons. I’m looking forward to competing with them in recruiting, I’m looking forward to competing with them on the field. Randy has done a great job. I’ve followed his career for a long time.”
The comments put a temporary cool on relations between the two schools, which will square off November 1 in State College. Franklin, who has snagged some of Maryland and Virginia’s top high school talent in the past year, continued to note his comments were a product, in part, of indefatigable energy.
“Things like that sell newspapers and get hits on websites. I understand everybody wants a rivalry, everybody wants to create drama and controversy, I didn’t mean to do that. I was just trying to have some fun. I come to things like this and I don’t want to be this boring, standard coach that gives these really dry answers. I want to have fun. I look at that in everything we do. We’re going to work really hard, but if we’re going to work for 16 hours I want to have fun for 16 hours. If I come to media day, I want to have fun at media day. If I’m going to go do a 17-stop caravan, I’m going to try find a way to have fun on all 17 stops. From time to time, that gets me in trouble.”
Still, as Maryland embarks on a search for new rivals, Penn State is at the forefront. At Maryland Coach Randy Edsall’s press conference, he skirted around controversy after a question about facing Penn State on the recruiting front — he never mentioned the school nor Franklin in his response — but he addressed the event earlier in the morning. He said he had crossed paths with Franklin already in Chicago, and “just said hello, just like I did with all the other coaches around the table. That was about it.”
“It’s a business,” Edsall said. “You’re competing. That’s what you’re going to do.”