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That’s a clown question, Bro! Fans weigh in on what they would like to ask James Franklin

Photo by Penn State Athletics

I’ve covered Penn State football for 15 years and have asked my fair share of tough questions to coaches Joe Paterno, Bill O’Brien and James Franklin. A number of other veteran reporters on the beat also frequently ask the tough questions that need to be asked, including but not limited to: Rich Scarcella of the Reading Eagle, Mark Brennan of Lions247 with Fight On State, Audrey Snyder of The Athletic, Neil Rudel of the Altoona Mirror, David Jones of PennLive, Joe Juliano of the Philaelphia Inquirer, Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune, Ben Jones of StateCollege.com and Josh Moyer of the CDT.

But we do hear one complaint at times from some Penn State fans: Why don’t you guys ever ask the tough questions?

In some people’s minds, the PSU beat is soft or just afraid to ask Franklin tough questions.

That’s a load of horse(bleep).

We do ask the tough questions and the questions that need to be asked.

However, one thing fans who are not in the media don’t fully understand is that there is an etiquette to what we do, a decorum. We can’t just blurt out, “Why do you guys suck?” which is, honestly, what many PSU fans are thinking after some of these games, and some of you would probably love to see Franklin asked that question.

It doesn’t work that way.

We in the media deal with Franklin and the Penn State players frequently, and there is definitely some give and take with regards to what questions we ask, the exact words we use to ask them, the timing and the tone. For veteran reporters, everything we ask and every word we use in the question matters to us because, like you, we are looking for the best and most honest answer to our questions.

It’s not always easy to ask a tough question, given whatever circumstances are at hand. It might be after a loss, when emotions are raw, and sure, some media members don’t feel comfortable in what could be seen as piling on with really probing questions.

But we do know that you, the fans, want answers. Especially after losses, and absolutely during this very difficult and embarrassing 0-5 season.

We do, collectively, try to get to the bottom of things in each press conference. It’s sometimes tough after games because Franklin is only available for 10-12 minutes, so he only gets asked a dozen questions or so. The Tuesday press conferences are usually better, with a whole slew of tough questions usually asked after losses.

As I’ve said numerous times before, I respect the way Franklin handles tough questions. He is respectful and thoughtful in his responses and the way he deals with us in the media. We can ask him a tough question, and we know he won’t bite our heads off.

I’m a lifelong Syracuse basketball fan, for instance, and just watch the way Jim Boeheim handles what he perceives to be bad questions. He’s often a jerk about it, and yes, I absolutely am able to say that about the coach of my favorite team.

Franklin doesn’t do that. Now, he may not give fully detailed answers that we in the media like or that you fans want, but he does at least try to give an answer.

I posed this question Tuesday on Twitter, asking fans to reply with the questions they would like to ask Franklin.

There were a lot of good responses, and hey, maybe some of you fans will like these questions more than the ones we in the media actually ask.

Enjoy the questions, and as you read them, try to envision how Franklin might try to answer and if you think you’d actually get a detailed, honest response. Oh, and keep in mind, when you flat out make a statement that sounds like a fact, as some of these questions do, it often draws the ire of Franklin and lots of coaches because it assumes that they feel your statement is actually true, when in fact, it may not be.

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Written By

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, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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