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Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Opposing coaches staking out PSU players

By Adam Rittenberg

The NCAA hoped its stern ruling on Penn State's football program Monday would help change the culture in college football.

Opposing coaches staking out Penn State players in the parking lot of the football program? Probably not what NCAA president Mark Emmert had in mind.

Several opposing coaches have been spotted in State College, including a sizable group from Illinois.

From ESPN.com's latest news story:
[Penn State head coach Bill] O'Brien and his colleagues walked past a group of six coaches carrying University of Illinois bags and suitcases. A Penn State official told ESPN.com that no words were exchanged between O'Brien and the Illinois contingent. O'Brien declined to identify the players who have been offered up to 50 scholarships, but Illinois assistant athletic director Kent Brown acknowledged a group of Fighting Illini coaches are on Penn State's campus to recruit "a player or two -- maybe more."

Needless to say, Illinois coach Tim Beckman will be asked about this "strategy" on Thursday at Big Ten football media days. While some will say recruiting is recruiting and Penn State players are all fair game, it doesn't seem right to have opposing coaches staking out Nittany Lions players like this.

An Illinois spokesman told ESPN.com that athletic director Mike Thomas has contacted Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner about the Illini's intentions.

Penn State sophomore cornerback Adrian Amos tweeted this morning, "We have chosen to stay at Penn State and opposing coaches are outside our apartment, was that the intention of the NCAA? #comeonman."

A group of Penn State players, including quarterback Matthew McGloin and linebacker Michael Mauti, reaffirmed their commitment to the program earlier Wednesday. Absent from the group, star running back Silas Redd, who is being targeted by USC as a potential transfer. Redd and two teammates -- defensive tackle Jordan Hill and offensive lineman John Urschel -- were scheduled to travel Wednesday to Chicago for Big Ten football media days, but Penn State said they aren't coming. Only head coach Bill O'Brien will be in attendance Thursday and Friday. Colleague Joe Schad reports Redd is still mulling his decision to stay at Penn State or leave for USC.

The NCAA is making it very easy for Penn State players to transfer, but are opposing teams going too far in their immediate pursuit of the Nittany Lions' talent? Coaches staking out players on campus just feels a lot different than trying to flip recruits at the last minute before national signing day.

How would you feel about your team's coaches staking out the Lasch Building?

Speaking of Penn State recruits, while some already have jumped ship, the team's top verbal commit, quarterback Christian Hackenberg, is taking his time to decide his future. Colleague Mitch Sherman reports that according to Hackenberg's high school coach, Micky Sullivan, Hackenberg will visit State College to get all the facts before making his decision.
Ideally, the coach said, Hackenberg would visit Penn State and reach a decision before Aug. 7, when Fork Union opens fall practice. Fork Union begins the season on Aug. 25 against Richmond (Va.) Hermitage on ESPNU.

The Hackenbergs felt a bit of shock, Sullivan said, after the announcement Monday, which included a four-year postseason ban and the loss of 40 scholarships over four years.

Hackenberg and O'Brien bonded during the recruiting process, but O'Brien needs to make a good pitch to keep arguably the nation's top quarterback recruit on board. It'll be interesting to see how the Hackenberg situation plays out.