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Les Miles says Florida used negative recruiting to flip Feleipe Franks

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All’s fair in love and war, right?

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Feleipe Franks will start at quarterback for Florida when the Gators host LSU this week. But there’s an alternate reality in which Franks is suiting up in purple and gold. That dream died when Jim McElwain, according to former LSU coach Les Miles, used some negative recruiting to sway Franks to orange and blue.

Then in his first season at Florida, coach Jim McElwain used swirling media reports of Miles’ demise to lure Franks to Gainesville, Miles said. Franks de-committed the Monday after the Tigers were beaten 38-17 at Ole Miss, a third straight loss and a defeat that triggered dozens of reports detailing Miles’ impending ouster.

“Somebody calls you and says, ‘Listen, I just got the head coaching job at Florida. I want you to come be my quarterback, and I’m not going to be fired,’” Miles said. “‘That Miles guy, he’s going to be fired. Handwriting is on the wall.’”

When Franks, a former LSU commit, flipped to Florida after being a verbal to Baton Rouge for multiple years, it was certainly eyebrow raising.

As for negative recruiting, it happens absolutely everywhere. A coach on the staff of your favorite college program has used some form of it beyond the shadow of a doubt. Coaches that miss out on players blame negative recruiting, but they know as well as anyone that recruiting is perhaps the most transparent view of a program acting in its own self interest. With 130 teams, those interests are going to overlap. There is certainly a line to be crossed in recruiting, but did McElwain cross it?

In the “all's fair in love and war” nature of college football recruiting, the rules of engagement are bent and broken every day. If you happen to consider what McElwain did as a violation of some sacred code, that’s fine. I’d ask you to consider this though: If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’.