It's a brave new world for Penn State football.

That becomes more apparent with each passing day.

The James Franklin Era will be unlike anything we've ever seen in Happy Valley.

It started the day he was introduced to Nittany Nation and promised to "dominate" the state of Pennsylvania in recruiting.

Then, on the day he introduced his staff, Franklin couldn't stop gushing about his assistants' abilities as people, coaches and recruiters. There was open talk of bringing back a national championship to State College.

Such brashness was nearly unheard of during the buttoned-down Joe Paterno Era. Bill O'Brien wasn't much for bravado, either.

Franklin is much, much different. He seems to love the television camera, meeting people and making public appearances. He even managed an invitation to Tuesday's presidential State of the Union address.

In other words, he's a born salesman.

That's most evident on the recruiting trail. Since taking over the PSU program, he's added seven recruits to the ones that O'Brien had already lined up. All seven were formerly committed to other schools, including five that had been committed to Franklin's former employer – Vanderbilt.

In recruiting parlance, that's referred to as "flipping" recruits.

Changing landscape in Big Ten: In the conservative Big Ten, targeting other schools' committed recruits had long been frowned upon. It was more or less a gentlemen's agreement among the coaches.


But things have changed in recent years.

A few years back, Purdue coach Joe Tiller famously called out Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez as "a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil" for engaging in such tactics.

Ohio State's Urban Meyer also came under fire after his first recruiting class with the Buckeyes in 2012 included a number of flipped recruits.

It's interesting to note that Rodriguez, Meyer and Franklin all came from different conferences. Rodriguez had coached at West Virginia, which was in the Big East at the time. Meyer and Franklin came from Florida and Vanderbilt, respectively, both Southeastern Conference schools.

In the SEC, all is fair in love, war and recruiting. Meyer and Franklin have now brought that aggressive attitude to the staid Big Ten.

Whether that is a positive or a negative depends on your point of view.

The Paterno loyalists – who are sometimes referred to as "Joe-bots" – are probably not real enamored with Franklin. After all, it's not the way "Joe" would have done it, and it doesn't exactly personify the school's longtime mantra — "Success with Honor."

Other members of Nittany Nation likely see Franklin as a much-needed infusion of fresh air and new ideas at a tradition-bound university that can sometimes get mired in the "Penn State Way."

Recruiting will be galvanized: One thing seems certain, however. Franklin will almost certainly galvanize Penn State's recruiting. He knows it's the lifeblood of any power program.

It's no secret that recruiting waned in Paterno's later years, largely because he could no longer physically hit the recruiting trail. His younger and more energetic competitors took advantage of that.

O'Brien, meanwhile, was a dogged and capable recruiter under very trying circumstances, but you got the feeling he never really enjoyed the process of trying to sweet-talk teenage boys into coming to his school. He was an NFL guy who just wanted to coach football.

That's not the case with Franklin. He's spent almost his entire career at the college level and he actually seems to love the recruiting process.

My goodness, he's even going to have a mass meeting with PSU fans at the Bryce Jordan Center on National Letter of Intent Day (Wednesday, Feb. 5) to discuss the Lions' recruits. It's being billed as "Penn State Football – The Signature Event."

Can you imagine Paterno doing that? The PSU legend wouldn't even release an official list of recruits.

In addition, Franklin has already reached out to the state's high school coaches, meeting with them Saturday when the Pennsylvania State Football Coaches Association got together to finalize the state roster for the annual Big 33 Game. By all reports, that meeting went exceedingly well.

Franklin has also constantly played up the fact that he played high school football at Neshaminy and college football at East Stroudsburg. He knows what Pennsylvania football is all about. But he's also coached in the Pac-12, the ACC, the Big 12, the NFL and the SEC. He's been around. He knows what works and what doesn't. He's going to use that experience to try to make the Penn State program a national power again.

His tactics, however, are vastly different than anything ever seen at Happy Valley.

That becomes more apparent with each passing day.

Yes, indeed, it's a brave new world for Penn State football.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at