James Franklin denies Danny O’Brien tampering allegations

Danny O'Brien might not be able to transfer to Vanderbilt, but Vandy coach James Franklin wants to make sure we all know it's not because he tampered with the former Maryland quarterback.

When O'Brien and two other Maryland players, offensive lineman Max Garcia and linebacker Mario Rowson, were granted their release Monday, Maryland coach Randy Edsall noted that they couldn't transfer to any ACC schools or Vanderbilt.

Franklin used to be the offensive coordinator at Maryland before Edsall was hired and he recruited O'Brien to College Park. O'Brien heading to Vanderbilt seemed like a no-brainer until Edsall blocked the move and questions started to surface as to whether Franklin may have tampered with the three Maryland transfers.

Franklin did not deny having contact with his former players. In fact, he seemed proud of his ability to maintain relationships despite switching schools. But he also maintained that in his contact with players he never did anything that would be considered tampering.

"I don't like innuendos and comments being made about tampering and things like that," Franklin told Nashville radio station 104.5 The Zone.

"You guys know me. I'm the type of guy, I'm going to have relationships with my players. I hope to have relationships with the guys that play for me for the rest of my life.

"But the fact that people would make accusations that we tampered or did this or did that, again, I'm just going to defend our program and defend our character and how we do things. But I think it's ridiculous to think that I'm not going to have relationships with these kids after I leave places."

However, NCAA rules restrict contact between coaches and student-athletes who are under a scholarship agreement with another school. Another school can't contact a student-athlete until after the player has been released.

Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams told the Nashville Tennesseean that he didn't think his coaching staff had done anything wrong.

"Our coaches understand the rules and will abide by them and have abided by them," Williams said. "I don't believe we've made any illegal contact with these (three) kids. If we ever do that, we'll be the first ones to turn ourselves in. When all of this started to surface I made sure that our compliance people were very, very clear that any discussions that are had had to be within the rules, not that I thought that our coaches wouldn't do that, but just to reaffirm it."

O'Brien's high school coach Todd Willert told CBSSports.com that O'Brien plans to appeal Maryland's decision not to release him to Vanderbilt. O'Brien is set to graduate at the end of this summer and will be eligible to play right away at whatever institution he chooses.

"This weekend, Danny and his family will sort through everything," Willert said. "They think (Vandy) should be an option but I don't know exactly what they'll decide. It should be an option for him. Just be fair to everybody. Danny has no ill will towards anybody."

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Curtsy (female version of the hat tip) to Nashville Tennesseean.
Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham

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