Officially Official

Last month, James Franklin and Penn State agreed to a 10-year extension that outlines ways the football program will compete 365 days a year. This wasn’t news for the players on the team and incoming recruits, as Franklin had kept everyone updated. Now that the contract is official, the direct feedback Franklin’s been receiving has been positive. Photo credit: John Patishnock

James Franklin isn’t going anywhere.

While there may have been doubts among various sections of the fan base and other stakeholder groups, the current team and incoming recruits knew this all along. Beyond generally saying he’s handling things in-house, Franklin didn’t publicly comment in recent months while national writers and commentators pushed out the same tired storyline of him possibly leaving for another school.

Maybe that’s because he didn’t feel the need to say anything. If so, he was right.

He’s indicated time and again over the years — through both his actions and his words — that he’s committed to Penn State. You don’t passionately advocate for improving the infrastructure of a program, finally get everything in place, and then start all over somewhere else. And for what it’s worth, I don’t buy that USC is a more attractive job than Penn State. If you want to live in L.A., more power to you, but even that has its drawbacks.

The reasons why Penn State is a better job than USC (or LSU) is a topic for another column. For now, what’s important is that the lengthy extension didn’t come as a shock to the people inside Lasch. So, for all the misguided questions about distractions this season, it’s easy to argue that factors outside the team’s control, such as injuries, played a much bigger role this fall than anything else.

James Franklin and the Nittany Lions are preparing for their fifth consecutive New Year’s Six/New Year’s Day bowl. Photo credit: Steve Manuel

“The recruits, I think there is a sense of relief,” Franklin said Sunday evening. “They were all informed the whole way, but, when you’re seeing things in the media, and when you also see so many other places and so many coaches say that they’re not doing anything and then they do, it gives you pause. So I understand that. As much as I’m talking to these families and kids and explain it to them, what’s going on in the process, it still makes them feel better when they see it come out publicly.”

Want to see the ripple effect of jumping from coach to coach? Look at Nebraska, Florida State, Miami, or Texas, among other programs that are now a shadow of their former selves. For all the angst concerning the team this season, Franklin and the Nittany Lions are preparing to play in their fifth straight New Year’s Six or New Year’s Day bowl. That a 7-5 record was enough to get Penn State playing in the Outback Bowl underscores the strength of the program that’s been built and maintained ever since Franklin arrived in 2014.

Critical observation is good (I feel) in all aspects of life. You don’t improve without identifying how you can improve. Whether that’s with your goals re: health, finances, business, or in leading a college football program.

What’s even better is direct feedback from people who self-identify as being in your corner. Franklin has built a good rapport with a group of lettermen that includes Anthony “Spice” Adams, LaVar Arrington, and Brandon Short. They’ve spent time around the program and like the approach that Franklin and his administration are taking.

One reason for the support is they’ve seen how things are done with the current staff. The day after the game against Michigan last month, Adams visited Franklin in his office and told him, “‘Coach, I love what you’re doing with the winning and those types of things, but it’s the other stuff. It’s how much you care about the kids,'” Franklin said, relaying the conversation.

“The impact that Penn State had on him, the impact that the coaches had on him, I think that’s something that’s resonated with me since I’ve come back to Penn State: is how important the entire experience is for Penn Staters,” Franklin continued. “For our lettermen, for the people in the community, the type of young men we recruit, the families that we joined with — all of those things are important. So, the feedback from the lettermen and things like that has been really good.”

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5 thoughts on “Officially Official

  1. Really? Can’t see any improvement in the future with Franklin in the drivers seat. Change was necessary. Very discouraging. Can’t win the big games.😩😩😩😩

  2. This relationship and character building excuse is a lot of crap. You want to build character, then erect a church in Happy Valley that seats 100,000 people and can be used 52 weeks rather than 12 or 13. This would build true and lasting character. The football stadium is to show our athletes can compete with similar schools. Saying ‘look we could be worse’ doesn’t justify millions in salary.

  3. I totally agree with Chiara and Dave Kennedy. If you are happy with 8-4 seasons being considered “good” years then Franklin is the guy.

  4. You can’t beat the other top football teams “with Love”. Seems like the University is more content with a happy, loving atmosphere than a winning one.

  5. The simple fact is that the University’s largesse is way out of line with Franklin’s disappointing performance.

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