Big Ten coaches weigh in on PSU

Updated: July 27, 2012, 12:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said Thursday he has no plans to recruit the players at Penn State, suggesting it would violate what he calls a Big Ten coaching brotherhood.

Other Big Ten coaches were not as quick to rule it out.

"We're going to follow the rules and the rules allow you to recruit," said Purdue coach Danny Hope, who acknowledged contact between his staff and some Penn State players. "For us not to compete would be a disadvantage for our football program. Whether anything materializes out of it, I don't know. If they're available, we're interested."

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he had a "problem" with recruiting at Penn State, but didn't rule it out.

"I don't know enough about the rules," he said as the Big Ten's football media days began. "If a player reaches out, says, 'I want to leave here, I'm out of here, I'm gone,' and reaches out to someone, the player has a right to choose, especially by the rules, to go where he wants. To actively go get a player on a team, I'm not sure. ... I don't really understand the rule, I'm going to look into it."

Bielema already has decided.

"I made the decision as a head coach we would not reach out to any Penn State players," he said. "I think one of the things that I've loved and appreciated about being in this conference is there is a genuine respect for everybody in our league that you are a Big Ten brother and ... we're a group of coaches that have a network that's beyond anybody's expectations and helping us in recruiting."

He added: "And it wasn't anything more than I have a group of 105 players that are reporting on Aug. 5 that I want them to understand and believe that I think they can help us win another championship. And to bring someone in at this point so close to the season, I just wasn't comfortable with it."

Bielema wasn't the only Big Ten coach who said he's staying away from Penn State players.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and Indiana coach Kevin Wilson say they're in the same camp.

"I just believe there are certain things we will stand for as a program," Fitzgerald told Chicago Tribune. "I'm not trying to say that as a negative toward someone else. Everybody has a right and belief in the value systems of how they run their program and I respect that, but that's how we will do it at Northwestern."

Added Wilson to the Indianapolis Star: "If that kid wants to transfer, he'll contact you. I don't feel like contacting those guys. We're working on our program, our team.''

Meyer, meanwhile, had to familiarize himself with the possibility of players leaving his own program in December, though the seniors presented with the option to transfer out of Ohio State chose to stick around rather than play elsewhere.

"Our seniors were allowed to leave, and we were very fortunate none did," Meyer said.

Illinois coaches were in State College, Pa., on Wednesday, and other coaches have said they've been in contact with players. Preseason practice starts at Penn State on Aug. 6.

The NCAA sanctions will keep the Nittany Lions out of a bowl game for four years and the players are being allowed to transfer to another school and get on the field right away. At least 13 top players and as many as 30 affirmed their commitment to Penn State on Wednesday, including senior quarterback Matthew McGloin.

Many are awaiting the decision of running back Silas Redd, who rushed for 1,241 yards as a sophomore last season.

New Illinois coach Tim Beckman said coaches seeking Penn State players have nothing to apologize for. He said the Illini sent a list of names to Penn State before doing anything else.

"We're just following the rules of the NCAA," he said. "We were in State College but we did not go on campus. We went to establishments outside campus and called some individuals. If they wanted to come by, it was their opportunity to come by."

Bielema said he was impressed by the Penn State players who gathered to announce their decision to stay.

"I'm going to be their biggest fan for every week of the year for the guys that stay there and stick it through," he said. "My hat's off to the coach and all the players staying strong."

BuckeyeNation's Austin Ward and The Associated Press contributed to this report.