On Saturday, James Franklin held a season in-review press conference, where he addressed many of the topics that have concerned fans and journalists alike over the past few weeks.
After thanking everyone for braving the weather, Franklin dived right into the issues that have been on everyone's mind since the season ended. He started out by mentioning that, along with 7 others programs, Penn State hasn't had a losing season since 2005.
I kind of did a little research. We're one of only eight teams in the country with a winning record each of the last 11 seasons. It's a pretty good group of people. USC, LSU, FSU, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech and then Penn State obviously.
He then emphasized that building a program that achieves the level of success fans want and expect takes time. And given Penn State's precarious situation, it takes more time than one would regularly want or expect. And, in order to see this through, the vision has to be shared between the coaching staff and the fans. That vision includes not taking any shortcuts, which may show some progress in the short term, but do more to hinder Penn State in the long term than it does to help.
Next, Franklin addressed the departures of both Herb Hand and Bob Shoop. He thanked them for the time they put in helping rebuild the program, and wished them luck in their new positions. Along those lines, he address both the rarity of keeping so many coaches for so long, and the frequency with which coaching changes happen in today's college football. Making the best decision for oneself and the team goes both ways.
It's a testament to our staff and the type of people we have here that people are pursuing them. I can rattle off a number of jobs that those guys have turned down as well as guys on our staff, who have turned down things this year to stay and continue building what we're building. Look at our past. It's been a little bit of an anomaly nationally in terms of consistency on the staff. We want to get back to that. That's something that we're striving to get back to. Like I mentioned before, it's really challenging in today's world of college athletics and specifically college football.
As expected, the coaching staff knew about most of the transfers that were coming. Franklin expressed pride in the fact that most of the players who transferred already had degrees, which is something he emphasized when he was hired. The only transfer that came as a surprise to Franklin was that of Troy Reeder's.
Lastly, Frankiln introduced the new additions to the coaching staff. While he knew Tim Banks from having worked with him in the past, Franklin didn't know Matt Limegrover as well as the others. The players have been impressed with Limegrover so far, which always helps when it comes to a new addition.
Right off the bat, Franklin was asked about Christian Hackenberg. Franklin spoke with Hackenberg a day after announcing, and, to no one's surprise, Hackenberg thanked him for all they did for him.
I think Christian is going to go on and do wonderful things. Very, very supportive of that. But I was glad that Christian picked up the phone and called me the next day, and we had a great conversation.
The next question didn't get any eaiser, as it was about the media and fan reactions to all the departures.* Franklin didn't deviate from his message, which is to stay positive no matter what. He, however, has eased up on following the media as closely as he used to in the past. He reiterated that he still gets a lot of support via email, but the angry fans are usually the loudest, so that's what you hear the most.
I changed my philosophy this year, and really just kind of spent my time focused on things in our program, the players and how they're doing academically and football-wise, as well and game planning and recruiting and those types of things. So to be honest, I didn't follow it a whole lot. [Communications Director] Kris Petersen does a great job of keeping me informed of the pulse.
Along the same lines, Franklin was asked about the high expectations he set when he was hired.** He was called out on the "107,000 for every game, innovative offense, etc." When asked if he would have tempered expectations looking back, Franklin did not waste much time saying he did just that. However, his positive attidue may have gotten in the way of the actual message Franklin was sending. And yes, Franklin addressed that Penn State's situation is different, and that brings its own set of challenges.
Number one, I think I did do that. I mean, if you remember, I made a comment multiple times that one of the most difficult challenges of a head football coach, especially walking into the situation we walked into, is how do you get people excited about the direction of the program and where we're going without setting up false expectations. I think I made that comment several times. I think that's one of the most difficult parts of the job. I think the other thing is I'm a positive guy. I was a positive guy the day that I was born, and I'll be a positive guy the day that I leave this world. You know, so I made that comment. I think it really depends on what people were listening to, but I made that comment several times that that's probably the most challenging situation for a football coach is to explain to people kind of where we truly are but get people excited about the program, as well, and that's a delicate balance. That's a very, very delicate balance, and filling the stadium up is very, very important for us to continue to grow. I made those statements, as well.
When asked about Tim Banks, Franklin confirmed that he was part of the crew that set up shop at Penn State when the sanctions came down. Franklin knows Banks from his time at Maryland, however, and recognized that Banks was put in a difficult situation that required him to do something that he may not have agreed with.
Yeah, I've known Tim for a very, very long time. We worked together at the University of Maryland, followed his career as a coordinator in the Big Ten. I know the type of man that Tim is. I know his values. I know his morals. Tim was a part of that staff, and Tim was put in a very difficult situation, and we've discussed that. We've discussed that. There's no doubt about it. But I think once you guys all get to know Tim as well as our community gets to know Tim, they'll have no concerns or issues about that. Tim was put in a difficult situation as an employee, and I know the type of man he is.
*Is it me, or does it seem kind of weird that the media is asking Franklin about the media reaction to what happened in the past few weeks? **Here's your context on this question:
He promised 107k for every game. Promised exciting offense. Promised aggressive coaching style. Haven't seen one yet https://t.co/5eQpq1SbNq— Cory Giger (@CoryGiger) January 23, 2016
If you'd like to check out all the questions Franklin was asked, make sure to check out the full transcript below:
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