For a moment, James Franklin morphed into Bil Keane.
If the latter name sounds vaguely familiar, it’s for good reason. Keane was a cartoonist best known for his drawings of The Family Circus. The comic strip debuted in 1960 and remains in circulation to this day, with Keane’s son, Jeff, continuing the series. According to the comic’s publisher, The Family Circus is the most widely circulated comic in the world, appearing in over 1,500 newspapers.
OK, so what does all this have to do with Franklin and Penn State football?
Turns out, there is a connection. Sort of. Kind of. Just stick with me for a moment (please).
In a popular recurring theme of the comic strip, one of the children, Billy, takes a circuitous path to go a short distance, with a dotted line detailing his route. You can see one example in this NPR article.
That’s the image that sprung to mind as Franklin explained how exactly the Nittany Lions get to the stadium for team arrival after leaving the hotel. To hear Franklin’s description, you can watch today’s press conference. Jump to the 31:40 mark to hear my question — which focused on the moment when the Blue Buses pulled up the stadium — and Franklin’s response.
Listening to Franklin’s explanation is the best way to get the whole story, and here are a few notes:
— the team buses wind through campus, and the route is much longer than I previously thought;
— there’s a tailgating crew that Franklin sees each home game on the way to the stadium, with him saying, “They’re playing corn hole and having a good time, and they usually give us a big cheer when we go by.”
— in describing the the buses’ path, Franklin acknowledged: “to be honest, I don’t know any names of streets in State College”; it was a somewhat funny moment, and you’ll want to check it out, as the team’s media staff helped the head coach name the streets on the fly.
Starting at the beginning — like Franklin did with his response — makes sense, because by doing so, you gain full appreciation for what the moment is like when the team arrives at the stadium, where the area’s packed with family, friends, and alumni.
“It’s another opportunity for our players to see their parents one more time, their loved ones, before we go in,” Franklin said. “They usually have the stage set up there, and the band and cheerleaders, and it’s really cool. Then, I do my lap.
“I think it’s a great way to start the game experience, and you get a pretty good sense pretty early on from the time we leave the hotel of what type of environment it’s going to be in Beaver Stadium.”
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