Illinois coach Tim Beckman has one regret when it comes to the recruitment of Penn State players after the NCAA and President Culture allowed them to transfer without penalty.
But it has nothing to do with what stirred a considerable amount of anger and disgust among Bill O’Brien and Nittany Lions players such as Michael Mauti.
“I regret that it ended up being this much and that it’s still talked about,” Beckman said of one of the main subplots leading up to the Penn State-Illinois game Saturday. “But it did give a young man the opportunity to make his decision on what he wanted to do.”
Offensive tackle Ryan Nowicki, a redshirt freshman, is the only player that Illinois landed after the NCAA levied sanctions against Penn State — and then offered an escape hatch to anyone who wanted to leave the program.
But Illini coaches were among the most aggressive of the schools that recruited Penn State players. Beckman said Illinois merely told players they encountered that they could meet with Illini coaches off campus if they were interested in transferring.
“And if they didn’t (have interest) then we wouldn’t pursue them any further,” Beckman said. “We did not go and chase them.”
Beckman said he talked to O’Brien at Big Ten Media Days in late July about what happened. He was vague when asked Monday if the two resolved any differences they had over the recruitment of Penn State players.
“I hope so but this game’s about the players and playing it on the field,” Beckman said. “I know coach O’Brien does a great job of getting his players prepared and ready and I think he’s done a fabulous job with that program and it will be a 60-minute battle.”
– Scott Brown