James Franklin, through a few repeated bullet points, said all the right things in his introductory press conference today. He came across as energetic and passionate, and spoke of his love for the state of Pennsylvania and coaching young men in the game of college football.
Let's get right down to it.
Franklin, "so proud to be the next head football coach at Penn State," started out by thanking everyone, including his family--and reiterated that every decision he'll make at Penn State will be based on family. We've heard this before, and this is a theme with Franklin; this is what he said at Vanderbilt, and why so many at that program are so disappointed.
Why might this be different? One of Franklin's main bullet points. He hit home that he was a "Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart", a phrase he referenced multiple times. He'd been quoted already as saying this job was coming home, and it seems that way from the presser.
Growing up a Penn State fan, Franklin says that he and his wife reminisced about their first date and how he told her back then that the Nittany Lion head coaching job was his dream job. He also claims that he never once thought he'd have this opportunity.
Takeaways from the press conference:
- Franklin was unafraid of the "P" word. He specifically stated that he was honored to follow the "great Joe Paterno", amongst other legendary coaches. He also said that Sue Paterno reached out to his wife via email to congratulate them on the move.
- It was difficult for Franklin to leave his former job; "I'd still be at Vanderbilt if it wasn't for an unbelievable opportunity" to provide student athletes with an opportunity to get a great education and play for championships. He referenced Penn State's world-class facilities, and "unrivaled football tradition".
- "WE ARE GOING TO DOMINATE THE STATE." While inspiring, this is shades of Dave Wannstadt's intention to build a recruiting wall around Pittsburgh. In recruiting, he wants to dominate the state and the region, and sees no reason why the entire state of Pennsylvania can't pull together and "build the program where everybody wants it to be" and a program that everyone, fans, players, and the entire state, can be proud of. Refusing to take bait on challenging Urban Meyer, he says that if everyone in the state can convince the best players to stay home and accent those Pennsylvania players with some players nationally, "we can reach our dreams".
- Calling himself "fiercely loyal", Franklin will nevertheless sit down with the current coaches still on PSU's staff (and Ron Vanderlinden) to put together a great staff. "My job and my responsibility is to bring the best staff together for Penn State University."
- When asked about the rape case by Dave Jones, Franklin's demeanor went dead serious. He said that the questions he was asked in the interview process were incredibly thorough, and Athletic Director Dave Joyner interjected to reiterate that the vetting process they went through for this hire was the most extensive possibly ever in Penn State history--and, in Joyner's opinion, Franklin "answered every question forthrightly", and "I couldn't be more confident in the character" of Franklin.
- On potentially moving to the NFL, he says that "I'm a college guy. I'm a relationship guy." States that he doesn't care about offensive or defensive philosophies--he cares about the players, and their development.
- "It's going to be a sprint" right after the presser, calling current players, recruits, lettermen, other faculty members and influential members of the Penn State community. Franklin insists he "will not turn down a speaking engagement" and even offered to blow up balloons in a kid's backyard birthday party if necessary--all in an attempt to heal the community, and bring it back together.
- Franklin intends to install a "multiple pro-style offense, defense, special teams"--a flexible system, predicated on hiring a lot of really smart people that will let them "play to your strengths and hide your weaknesses." He wants to play very aggressive, even on defense--"Fans want to see an exciting style of defense." But--most importantly--"We're going to have fun."
- "We feel very good about the quarterback we have in our program right now." Franklin says what is true in the pros is true in college: if you have a good QB, you almost always have a chance.
- Franklin has a sense of humor--amongst a few bald jokes, he cracked that the guys he recruited at Vanderbilt who turned him down for PSU would be buried on the depth chart. In seriousness for recruiting, though, he says that he already has a relationship with some of the players and recruits, and expects to build on that right after the presser ends. He expects to be able to pull in arguably the top recruiting class in the nation soon--because "we have too many things to sell at this university".
- When asked about the 90,000 fans that will pack Beaver stadium every week, Franklin guaranteed that every game would be sold out from here on out. He's an optimist, and can't say enough about how much fan turnout affects players and coaches.
- Having come from the SEC, Franklin has tremendous respect for that conference, and its coaches and institutions. On the SEC, "What better way to prepare to come here?"
- "Penn State is a special place, and there's only a handful of Penn States in this country."
So, BSDers...what's your take on our new head coach?