Go back to the '90s, however, and how many schools really recruited nationally? ND was certainly one. Michigan another. USC? I'm not really sure
Joe didn't really need to recruit nationally for many, many years, as PA and NJ were as fertile a recruiting grounds as anywhere in the country. It's really only been over the last 15 years that this (perceived) shift has happened. Ohio State rarely dipped outside of Ohio and surrounding states under Cooper and Tressel. Meyer has blown that up and gone national
That's a great point. I think pure logistics also prevented national recruiting from happening. Athletic budgets were smaller, national recruiting services more limited, data on kids was harder to find, communication options were more limited, etc. You had to pick and choose where you sent your scouts and so you would obviously focus locally just from an efficiency standpoint. There might have even been more "local pride" (for lack of a better term) for kids at some point making it harder to poach talent, but cant confirm that.
However, the world changed quickly and recruiting definitely became more national and I personally believe we were slow to adapt (see JoePas famous "tweedle dee" comment, which while hilarious, was somewhat telling). I follow recruiting quite closely and given the size, history, resources, exposure and academics of the PSU program, it felt like for a long-time we were not getting our "fair share" of national recruits. And in fact, other teams started poaching our talent from across the country. But Franklin clearly understands this new game before the game. While it is easy to point to his charisma as his biggest asset, he has also made important organizational steps to improve our situation. He treats recruiting as an end in of itself, has dedicated recruiting coordinators and considers recruiting success/failures as part of staff evaluations. That is just management. Combine with on-field success and that is why we are seeing us step into the echelon where we belong.