James Franklin has caused a bit of a Big Ten stir, claiming that certain schools – Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan – have used negative recruiting tactics against Penn State, planting seeds in recruits’ minds that the program could face more NCAA sanctions, and thus, giving them a reason to not become a Nittany Lion.

Randy Cross’ response, if this allegation is true? Tough.

“All’s fair in love, war and recruiting,” the CBS Sports Network college football analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Would that go on? I would imagine to some degree they’re going to point out the negative side, that sort of – what proved to be through this whole Penn State process with Paterno and Sandusky and all that – the sort of cult-like following that Penn State has. If I was recruiting against them, I wouldn’t get past knee-deep, but I’d have to bring it up. I think that’s something that James Franklin knows he faces, and I’m not sure if the NCAA a) has any kind of business getting involved in this, and b) has any power to make them not mention any things like that.”

Of course, there could be some sour grapes in Franklin’s remarks. Penn State has gone 7-6 in each of his first two seasons, while Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan are once again expected to compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

“There’s teams in the Big Ten, like Michigan State and Iowa, that really have got people’s attention and you’re looking at them and you’re saying, ‘Man, they’re really well-coached, and they get better and better as the year goes on,’” Cross said. “This year is starting to remind people a little bit of a couple of years ago when you looked at Urban Meyer’s team and you said, ‘Well, they’re young. He’s going to have a heck of a team in 2017.’ And the reason people are so high on him is because all they did in 2014 was win the national championship a year early. I think he’s got that kind of staff and he’s got that kind of talent. I think people that discount Ohio State forget they still got one of those quarterbacks left from that triumvirate that everyone was trying to figure out who was going to play.”

That would be J.T. Barrett, who is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. An undefeated season, including a win over Michigan at the Horseshoe on November 26, would go a long way in that endeavor.

Then again, Jim Harbaugh will have a lot to say about that.

“I think Michigan made an unbelievable move getting him, and they’ve gotten exactly what you get with him,” Cross said. “Those that forget what Jim Harbaugh can do didn’t pay attention to him in San Francisco and definitely didn’t pay attention to him when he was at Stanford and brought Stanford to where David Shaw’s got them right now as a perennial power in the country. Am I shocked that he’s doing this fast? Heck no. He has that effect on the football program, the mentality of the program and also the talent level of the program.”


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