In this special edition of James Franklin's conference calls, he discussed important topics like being able to face Georgia in a January bowl, the search for a new offensive coordinator, and the health of key defensive players.
James Franklin had a very short opening statement, in which he expressed gratitude and excitement for being picked to go to the
Gator TaxSlayer Bowl.
It's a great opportunity to play in this wonderful bowl game in Jacksonville, Florida. Our coaches, players and fans are so excited, so I really, really appreciate the opportunity, and I look forward to a great game.
This is a great opportunity for the Nittany Lions to finish the season against a quality opponent, and one from the SEC, no less. Being able to finish your season by beating an SEC program should set the tone for a successful offseason.
As you would expect, most of the questions revolved around the search for the new offensive coordinator. There were some different questions mixed in, one of which was about the the health of some players (and their potential availability for the bowl game).
Obviously having the time off at the end of the season and not having your All-American defensive end for the past couple of weeks and not having his counterpart on the opposite side for a week or two has an impact. There's no doubt about it, especially when you're playing the Michigan States of the world and people like that. We anticipate having everybody back, just based on time.
Franklin also spoke about the challenges still facing Penn State, and how those still affect the team. He noted that he's the fifth different coach in 27 months for Penn State, so they've been lacking continuity that they are now starting to get back. Through all the turmoil, however, the program is headed in the right direction.
I think a lot of people are aware of some of the challenges we've been through. We're still under the scholarship limit. Next year will be the first year we'll be back at full scholarships. Last year, halfway through the season we found out we were able to go to a bowl game. So there's just been challenges. Limits in scholarships, sanctions for multiple years, a $60 million fine -- there have been a lot of things we have been working though.
Franklin is looking to fill the offensive coordinator position within the next two weeks, so expect an announcement soon. In the meantime, Ricky Rahne is taking over the offensive coordinator responsibilities in preparation for the bowl game. Franklin is interested in hiring somebody from the outside at the position, however, so don't expect Rahne to be promoted at the end of the bowl game.
One of the special things about bowl games is it allows your family to stay together for another month or so. At this point, Ricky Rahne is fulfilling those responsibilities on our staff, and then I hope to have the [offensive coordinator] position filled in the next week-and-a-half to two weeks or so. We'll just have to see how the process plays out, but that person will probably come on and spend that time evaluating our players, evaluating our staff and being able to have some input, but it's not like we are going to put in a new system right before the bowl game. We are going to try and keep things as normal as we possibly can, and it will be a great opportunity and a great experience for Ricky Rahne, as well, to call a game and also put in a game plan.
Right now we're looking outside the program. I've got a lot of respect for Coach Rahne and I've been with him a long time. I think he's an up and coming coach who's got a tremendous career ahead of him, but at this point I want to go out and I think the best interests for our players and our program is to hire a guy who is been calling plays, and been successful for a number of years.
That said, Franklin does want the hire to be in place in order to evaluate the players before the bowl game, even if he doesn't end up calling the game. He mentioned that just how the players would be concerned about the future, he is too by not having a coach in place right away.
I think that is the biggest thing, if we can get somebody in place to evaluate our players, to be around our staff, so that right after the bowl game they are able to jump right in on day one in terms of moving forward with the program and what we're going to be doing on offense. And then the other thing to that is helpful is for our players, to not have that in the back of their mind and be concerned or worried about the future and what it holds. They'll be able to setup meetings with that guy and sit down with him as well and just kind of get to know him on a personal level. So I think it really allows them to get focused on the game and not be concerned about what the future holds and what it is going to look like. And to honest with you, the same with me. As a coach you constantly have 25 things on your desk that need to get done, so as long as we can find the right person and make the right hire, and I can get that off my desk, that is one less thing that we're focused on, the better. Now I can focus on whether our guys are finishing strong academically, making sure we're still out in the community, finishing this recruiting class the right way, and we're starting to move forward every way possible. If it takes more time than that, then I'm perfectly comfortable to take that time to make sure we get it right. This is an important position for us obviously, so we'll see how the thing plays out. But in a perfect world, that's what you would like to see.
Lastly, Franklin discussed his schedule in preparation for the bowl game, which doesn't immediately include Georgia. Franklin keeps a list of potential bowl games the team can go to, and as they season progresses and he has a better idea of who they'll face, he starts emailing the staff, players, and academic advisers to prepare the team. In turn, the first few practices are developmental in nature and focus on fundamentals and areas of development for the players. After a few of those practices they then move on to opponent-specific practices, in this case Georgia.
For us, like I mentioned, our first couple of practices for the bowl aren't specific to Georgia anyway. They are program development practices just to get our younger players and our older players focused on fundamentals, footwork. We do some drills we haven't done since camp or spring ball. We kind of get those drills back going, and then we'll shift gears and focus on our opponent, which is going to be a tremendous challenge for us. So at this point, no, we're just at the beginning levels of that. We do have some history with the program obviously, and I think that's helpful to a degree, but the most important thing is we have to study the film and see what they did at the end of the season so strong with four wins. So we want to break that film down, see what they did well, and how we're going to approach this game.
That does it for today. Check out the full transcript below: