Penn State Football: James Franklin Creating SEC-Like Culture With Nittany Lions

James Franklin Creating SEC-Like Culture at Penn State

6/19/14 in NCAAF   |   rlnichols11   |   22 respect

New Penn State head coach James Franklin is ushering in a new era in Happy Valley. Blog Photo - Penn State Football: James Franklin Creating SEC-Like Culture With Nittany Lions
Following the departure of Bill O'Brien to the Houston Texans, Franklin comes into Penn State boasting quite an impressive resume.

In three years, Franklin led the Vanderbilt Commodores to a bowl game every season. That may not seem like much to the Nittany Lion fan base, but prior to Franklin's tenure, Vanderbilt had never been to bowl games in back-to-back seasons.

He was able to take a historically poor football program and make it a competitor in the toughest football conference in the country. Franklin may not have been the Hail Mary hire everybody was hoping for, but he's more than qualified to be the coach that leads Penn State back to national prominence.

Much like Urban Meyer has done at Ohio State, Franklin is establishing an SEC-like culture right away.

Like almost everything in today's college football landscape, it all begins with recruiting. The mindset that Franklin has brought to this aspect of Penn State's football program has paid dividends immediately.

For far too long, many Big Ten coaches have decided to simply stick with their recruiting pipelines in the north and midwest, and basically surrender talent-rich states such as Texas, Georgia, and Florida to the SEC schools (and the Longhorns, to an extent).

Whether that's due to laziness, an overzealous commitment to tradition, or a combination of the two, I have no idea. Regardless, many of the best athletes in the country have been ignored by Big Ten coaches, and it's resulted in the conference as a whole falling behind in terms of competitiveness at the national level. 

With the arrival of Meyer, and now Franklin, the Big Ten has started to buck this trend.
Instead of recruiting around the Nick Sabans and Les Miles' of the world, Franklin is using his pipelines in the south to go right after them, and pry away the same caliber athletes that the SEC has used to put a stranglehold on the rest of the country.

Franklin has even taken this a step further. Although the NCAA prohibits a coach from holding a camp further than 50 miles away from their campus, there is nothing that stops them from coaching at other school's camps across the country.

So Franklin has been coaching at several different smaller camps in the south to further establish his recruiting roots and establish stronger relationships with the athletes he's trying to snatch away from other SEC schools.

Although he hasn't much of a chance to establish a similar on-field culture outside of spring practice, there's no doubt that the take-no-prisoners attitude that Franklin has established with his recruiting strategy will spill over to his players once training camp rolls around.

The SEC has built its dominance in large part by having that aggressive mindset on the recruiting trail, and with their Xs and Os. After three years of embracing that at Vanderbilt, he's bringing the same relentless mentality to Happy Valley.

So far, so good, as Penn State's 2015 recruiting class is ranked No. 4 in the country, according to 247Sports. Keep in mind, he's doing this with scholarship reduction sanctions imposed by the NCAA pending from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Meyer's establishment of an SEC-like culture at Ohio State clearly paid off right away, posting a 24-2 record in his first two seasons in Columbus.

Although it might be a bit unrealistic to expect that kind of success from Penn State right away, that relentless mentality has clearly given Ohio State some separation from the rest of the Big Ten. Once the Nittany Lions have their bowl ban lifted and their scholarships returned, they might not be too far behind.

Hopefully other Big Ten coaches will begin to take a few pages out of Franklin and Meyer's playbook, and the Big Ten can start to close the gap with the SEC sooner rather than later. 

Luke Nichols is a Big Ten contributor for FanIQ with a keen insight on the Ohio State football program. Follow him on Twitter: @rlnichols11.

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