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July 26, 2012By Matt Herb
CHICAGO -- Big Ten coaches expressed differing views Thursday on whether Penn State players were fair game now that the NCAA has given them the right to transfer without sitting out a year.
Purdue's Danny Hope said he would have no reservations about pursuing Nittany Lion players. "The NCAA has established the rules and the guidelines," he said. "As long as we're compliant, we're going to exercise any opportunity we have to improve our football team."
Illinois coach Tim Beckman said his staff suspected even before the sanctions were announced on Monday that there might be an opportunity to bolster the Illini's roster. He dispatched members of his staff to State College, but didn't send them onto campus. He said the assistants went "to establishments" outside of campus and called some individuals. If they wanted to come by, they had an opportunity to come by.
Others said they thought it would be inappropriate to recruit Penn State players. Ohio State's Urban Meyer said he had "a problem with that," when asked about pursuing Nittany Lions.
"If a player reaches out, says, 'I'm outta here,' [he] has the right to choose where he goes and what he wants," Meyer said. "To actively go out and get a player, I'm not sure."
Wisconsin's Bret Bielema said he would not do so, either. He said he made the decision not to pursue any Nittany Lions after the topic came up in a staff meeting.
Bielema cited his respect for other members of the Big Ten coaching fraternity.
And like Ohio State, the Badgers likely don't need much help to solidify their roster. Said Bielema, "We have 105 players, and I think they can help us win a championship."
Bielema said he was moved by the video of Penn State players Wednesday announcing their plans to stay at Penn State. "I'm going to be the biggest fan for those guys who stick it out and stay," he said.
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