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James Franklin, Penn State not focusing on Rutgers controversy

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- James Franklin doesn't want his team focused on the Rutgers controversy, but he acknowledged Wednesday it certainly puts Penn State in a unique situation for Saturday's Big Ten game.

"I've never been in this situation before," Franklin said, alluding to the three-game suspension of RU coach Kyle Flood. "From what I understand, all their preparation is still going to be exactly the same ... so it won't affect how we prepare."

Flood was suspended Wednesday for violating university policy by contacting a professor about a player's academic status. He is still able to work with the team and coach practice, but he cannot have contact with the Scarlet Knights on game day.

Franklin and offensive line coach Herb Hand both said they haven't directly addressed Flood's absence with their team. And they don't expect it to impact their game plan.

"Our focus is being the best Penn State that we can be come Saturday, regardless of the circumstances that surround the game," Hand said Thursday morning. "The game itself is going to be Penn State players vs. Rutgers players, and we want to be the best Penn State that we can be."

Flood's suspension hasn't been the only distraction this week. The face of the program, Leonte Carroo, was indefinitely suspended Sunday after he allegedly slammed a woman on concrete outside the stadium, according to a complaint. Within the last month, seven Rutgers players -- all of whom have since been suspended or dismissed -- have been arrested, along with three former players.

Franklin said on Tuesday, prior to Flood's suspension, that he had "a lot of respect" for the Rutgers coach. He reiterated Wednesday evening, following the suspension, that was still the case.

"I do have tremendous respect -- I don't know specifics or details -- I have tremendous respect for Kyle, their whole coaching staff, their university," Franklin said Wednesday. "I've known those guys for a long time, a lot of guys on their staff. Again, I don't know specifics or details -- I can just tell you about my 20 years in the profession and my focus on Penn State."

So, Franklin was asked, had he ever contacted a student's professor during those 20 years?

"I'm focused on Penn State and preparing the game for Saturday," he said, before moving on to the next question.

Penn State opens Big Ten play against Rutgers at 8 p.m. Saturday in Beaver Stadium. It will be the Nittany Lions' first-ever "Stripe-Out."