CHICAGO — Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill made it clear Thursday at Big Ten Media Days: The Gophers will not pursue any Penn State players that are now available due to the NCAA’s unprecedented sanctions on the program.
“We’ve got enough problems of our own trying to move forward, so we’re not going to do anything to go see players,” Kill said. “We don’t have enough time to do those kinds of things.”
The NCAA announced Monday that Penn State will be fined $60 million and the football program will be banned from the postseason while suffering significant scholarship losses for the next four years. The Nittany Lions will also vacate all wins from 1998-2011.
Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien said Thursday that no player had spoken to him directly regarding a decision to transfer. Earlier this week, three Penn State players, including star running back Silas Redd, announced they would leave the problem. Redd will transfer to Southern California, while safety Tim Buckley will transfer to North Carolina State.
Kill added that if an athlete from Penn State were to contact the Gophers, his staff would “do the proper procedures,” but he left it at that.
Other Big Ten coaches offered mixed opinions on the subject — most agreed with Kill, a few disagreed and a few fell somewhere in-between.
Despite Jerry Kill’s evident disinterest in actively pursuing any Penn State players, the idea was met with mixed opinions by other coaches throughout the Big Ten. A rundown of their responses:
• Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema made it clear his respect for Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien has deterred him from reaching out to anyone on the Penn State roster.
“I'm not casting doubt on anybody or questioning anything, but we made a decision that we would not actively pursue any Penn State players,” Bielema said.
• Purdue head coach Danny Hope said he would do what was best for his program.
“As long as we're compliant, we're going to exercise every opportunity we can to enhance our own football team,” Hope said.
• Ohio State first-year head coach Urban Meyer appeared to be thoroughly against the idea of other teams being able to solicit to current Penn State players.
“I have a problem with that,” Meyer said. “As a player, a young man has a right to play wherever he wants to play. We have to keep that in mind. However, when he's part of a team, you're getting into a situation that I'm not quite very familiar with, and we're not going to get very familiar with it.”
• Illinois first-year head coach Tim Beckman said he has taken more of a proactive approach to the recent availability of Penn State players. Beckham said he and his staff were in State College, Pa., on Wednesday but were not on the Penn State campus.
“We went to two establishments outside campus and called some individuals and if they wanted to come by, it was their opportunity to come by,” Beckham said.
• Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson seemed less interested in the potential recruitment of Penn State players and more focused on his team.
“I don't feel like contacting those guys,” Wilson said. “We're working on our program, our team. We have not studied tape or talked about guys to this date. We've talked only about getting ready for preseason next week.”
• Michigan head coach Brady Hoke admitted the Wolverines have looked at players on the Penn State roster.
“I'd be lying if I didn't say we didn't look at the roster to some degree — but we've kind of made a decision that we're going to stay and recruit the guys and keep our business our business,” Hoke said.
• Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini made it clear that he is more focused on his current roster and that he is opposed to the wooing of players from the Penn State program.
“We're not actively pursuing any Penn State players,” Pelini said. “We're concentrating on our football team, the guys on our program.”
• Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said his program will follow through if a Penn State player contacts it first, "but we're not going to invest in going beyond that."
"I would want to do this with respect to Penn State in any way that I can with integrity," Dantonio said. "But at the same time, we have a job to do, and we do have relationships with some players that have gone there because we recruited them at an earlier time."
• Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, who Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien said has contacted him about players, dodged a question about where he stood on the issue of pursuing players.
"I think it's really complex right now and very confusing, quite frankly, just what the rules are," Ferentz said. "So I think first and foremost, everybody needs to be compliant. I think after that, it's a matter of people doing what they feel is appropriate."
• Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said he is focused on his team "and in no way, shape, or form are we going to pursue, contact, or reach out to Penn State University."
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