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Franklin: There are challenges in dealing with COVID, both for safety and personal reasons

James Franklin was told during his Zoom call Wednesday evening that Alabama coach Nick Saban had tested positive for COVID, and then he was asked how Penn State is handling that issue in the leadup to the start of its season.

Franklin gave some candid, informative answers.

“One of the issues that we’ve heard that’s been a problem is when you go play an away game and the non-travel guys stay behind, those guys being disciplined on a weekend where we’re all out of town and they’re disappointed that they’re not traveling with us,” the coach said. “We have heard that that’s been a problem at other schools, and I can understand why. We literally just talked about that after practice.”

Franklin has had to address personal responsibility with the players.

“I said guys, please, we can’t get complacent with this, we can’t get casual with this, because as soon as you do, it gets you,” he said. “And I said, you can’t allow me to keep telling these stories every day and then after practice and then you start to tune me out.”

Franklin said he drives everybody “crazy” because he’s “the nag all day long in the office” with regards to safety protocols.

“I’m the nag all day long at practice, and then I get mad at the other personnel on the field because I need some help making sure that we’re all doing it,” he added.

“As soon as we made this decision to play college football, we knew there were gonna be definite challenges that came with it. And just as much as challenges, there were gonna have to be significant sacrifices made, and there was gonna have to be significant discipline shown by everybody.

“We’re just trying to do the best we possibly can to make this thing work. Not only how we we play on the field and how we scheme and how we coach, the discipline of the how we conduct ourselves away from the Lasch football building and Beaver Stadium is gonna impact how we do on (the field).”

The challenges aren’t only about trying to stay safe from the virus.

“We’ve had some issues with our families,” Franklin said. “It’s been hard on our wives, it’s been hard on the kids.

“You see how often our families are at practice — the wives and the kids — and we’re not getting any of that.”

Franklin said he feels bad for the new coaches on the staff and the new players because they are “having a very different Penn State experience than normal.”

“John Scott, I haven’t even met his wife face to face,” the coach said. “I haven’t even met his children face to face. He’s got a son that’s here playing in State College, and he would be at practice. I haven’t even met him. So it’s different.

“We’re having challenges and issues. I’m having challenges and issues with my wife and kids. We’ve got a pretty good kind of way of going around our business around here and including our families as much as possible.”


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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career.

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