James Franklin is facing a major hurdle in Year 3 at Penn State.

Three teams in the B1G East will likely begin the season among the top 20 teams in the country. Franklin’s will not be one of them.

Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State are the class that Franklin hopes to compete with on a yearly basis. Naturally, that competition off the field is also there.

But according to Franklin, it involves slandering of Penn State.

In a recent interview with the Reading Eagle, Franklin talked about the state of the program and where he feels it will be entering 2018. He brought up how the recent Joe Paterno allegations have been used by his B1G East competitors in the recruiting world:

“A month ago, I’m in Chicago at a wedding of one of my former players and the most recent things (allegations that late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was told that Sandusky abused children in the 1970s) come up. I spend all Friday and Saturday on the phone talking to all of our players because other schools are contacting them and telling them the NCAA is going to get involved again and impose more sanctions. I think everybody will feel really good when everything has been resolved and we can truly put this thing in our past. When I say our past, I don’t mean we just move on. We have to learn and grow from those experiences. We have to have things in place to make sure we don’t have any issues moving forward. I think one of the things that’s a challenge is as Penn Staters, we’re so proud and we know what we’re all about and who we are. The people we’re competing with – Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame – this is just not something they have to deal with. Although we want to move on, those other schools are not letting us move on.”

In other words, Michigan, MSU and OSU are all using the recent Paterno allegations to recruit against Penn State, according to Franklin.

Given the cutthroat world of recruiting, that isn’t surprising to hear. Does it make it morally right? Certainly not, but we don’t know what was being said or how it was presented.

Franklin knew when he came to Penn State that the Paterno-Sandusky fallout would be something that he’d have to overcome on the field and in the recruiting world. Reassuring 17-year-old kids that PSU won’t face another postseason ban in light of the recent allegations was obviously not something he wanted to deal with.

If you read the rest of the interview with Franklin — great stuff from Rick Scarcella, by the way — you’ll see how Franklin talked about how he knew Penn State wouldn’t be out of the woods until probably his third year.

Unfortunately for Franklin, it appears he’s still fighting that battle.