Day 1 of the Big Ten Media Days was held earlier today in Chicago, and James Franklin was amongst those who spoke. A few items he seemed to emphasize (as you’ll notice in the quotes provided below) is that the team is back to full scholarship depth, that this is a ‘pivotal year’ for the program, and that there is a sense of optimism floating around the team, despite the rough finish to last year.
On getting back to near the full allotment of scholarship players:
I feel great about our team and the commitment and the work ethic and the leadership we've had. Obviously our first year being back to the 85 scholarships which is significant. I've spent the last couple of months going back and changing all of our practice schedules and everything that we're doing in terms of reps, the amount of time that we're out at practice, increasing the reps that we're having at practice because we had modified all those in the past. Reducing those numbers, getting those numbers back up.
On the importance of senior leadership within the program (or lack thereof, because #sanctions)
Senior leadership is going to be very, very important for us like it is across the country. We're still a little out of whack with our numbers of juniors and seniors in our program. Spent a lot of time in the offseason studying two-deeps of our opponents and we still don't have a large number of seniors in our program.
On how Joe Moorhead ultimately ended up on his staff:
I got to know Coach Moorhead a couple of years ago, I got a chance to watch him at a Nike football clinic in Pittsburgh and was very, very impressed with him.
From that point I kind of put him on my list which I keep a constant list of coaches at every position that I want to be aware of. Started kind of tracking what he was doing, how he was doing it, the success that he had.....
So me and Joe started this process, started having some discussions about why it made sense for him and why it made sense for us. And I think the combination of what Joe is going to be able to bring to the table as well as us now having experience and depth on the offensive line, those things are going to marry up well.
On the lofty expectations that naturally come with being the head football coach at Penn State:
I think it's two things. I think there's very high expectations at Penn State, and there should be. I also would say that there's very few programs that would have been able to come through what we've come through with the type of success that we've had, two bowl games in a row. Never had a losing season through the challenges. So there's positives there to build on. There's no doubt about it. But I think progress is going to come in every area. The area that I'm probably as excited about as anywhere is on special teams. Probably an area that I don't think people talk enough about.
On dealing with the recent stories regarding IT:
I think it's no different than anything else. You just have to be prepared. You have to have a plan.
And it's kind of a unique situation, because you're having conversations about things that you, your staff, your players have nothing to do with and happened over 40 years ago.
But you just want to make sure that you have open lines of communication, that you're as transparent as you possibly can be. You get on the phone and reach out to people and answer questions and be open and be honest and be truthful....
And also providing resources of where they can get the answers that they're looking for, either from us or from other sources as well. So the Big Ten's been very supportive of that. The NCAA has been very supportive of that. Our administration has been very supportive of that.
As an added bonus, here’s James Franklin discussing the quarterback battle between Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens with ESPN: