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5 Things James Franklin said that fans should know

Photo by Penn State Athletics

James Franklin touched on a number of football issues Tuesday, but it was what he said near the end of his weekly press conference that made the most impact. Here are 5 Things Franklin said that Penn State fans should know about:

1: Franklin has learned a lot about himself, and he needs his family: He was asked what he’s learned about himself this season and what he can take from that going forward in his career. Franklin responded by saying, “I have probably learned more about my myself this year, personally and professionally, than at any point in my 48 years on this planet.”

That’s probably the case for a lot of people during this crazy 2020, where we’ve had to deal with quarantines and isolation and home schooling and pretty much having our entire lives disrupted. That has certainly been the case for Franklin, as he’s living without his wife and daughters because of the coronavirus.

“I’ve had professional challenges before in my career, I’ve had personal challenges before in my life, never really both at the same time,” he said.

Franklin then gave a long answer about his and the program’s core values and competing and lots of other coach-y kind of talk. Then he summed it up by keeping it real and getting back to what’s most important.

“I gotta find a way to get my family back together,” he said. “I always knew that I was a family guy. I’ve always known that, and I’ve never taken that for granted. But I would challenge everybody on this call — the media members and anybody that may be listening — don’t ever take that for granted. And I didn’t. But this this has been enlightening for me.

“So, if you get an opportunity to, hug your wife, hug your kids. brothers, sisters, family member, whatever it may be. Do not take that that for granted. That’s something I’ve always known, but this has magnified it for me. So, I’ve learned so much. And at the end of the day, I gotta find a way to get my family back together as soon as possible.”

2: Bowl discussion will come after Saturday’s game: Franklin’s 1-0 mentality won’t let him think about anything beyond the next game. So to have him talk about whether or not PSU would want to go to a bowl game if invited is not something he’s gonna bite on.

He said he addressed this week’s champions week game in the locker room after Saturday’s win over Michigan State. And following the Illinois game, the coach will bring up the bowl subject with the team.

“Saturday night after the game, we’ll have another discussion,” Franklin said.

We can probably assume there will be a team vote about going to a bowl game, as other teams around the country have done. There is no reason to believe at this point that the Lions would vote collectively against going to a bowl game.

3: Recruiting this year is vastly different than ever before because of the pandemic: Players can’t visit campus, and for a program like Penn State, a big part of the allure is getting recruits on campus to show off everything Penn State has to offer. The coaches have done their best to sell the program as much as possible on Zoom calls.

Franklin also talked about how Pennsylvania isn’t what it once was in recruiting.

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“You look at the number of Division I players in the state of Pennsylvania over the last 30 years, it’s changed,” Franklin said. “You look at the population in the state of Pennsylvania, it’s gone down. You look at the number of high school graduates in the state of Pennsylvania, it has gone down. Still really good football is played here, still really good players are playing here.

“But this is also a place where you gotta come and see it, and you got to have a plan to come and see it, whether it’s a game or whether it’s a spring game or whether it’s a junior day during spring practice. It’s a special place. But you got to come see it.

“Not being able to do all those things, not having spring ball, not having summer, we’ve just had to be really creative in terms of how do we show the campus, how do we give a campus tour. How do we give a facilities tour, how do we build connections and bonds with people.”

4: This is a buys week balancing game prep and signing day: There’s never been a week where the Lions are preparing for a game and also having to go through signing day, which is Wednesday. Franklin said he and the assistant coaches will set aside time today to talk with recruits after their letters come in.

“The way we have it planned out is for about a three-hour block of time, I’m going to shift my time from typically a Wednesday offense, defense and special teams, and I’m going to be handling the recruits,” Franklin said.

“With the recruiting staff, the coaches will do their normal game planning, but we have the calls scheduled at a certain time so recruit X, which I can’t say his name — I almost said one of their guys names right now and got myself in trouble — but so recruit X is going to call in at 7 o’clock. At 7 o’clock that position coach in that area will step out of their meetings and be with me to greet them with the recruiting staff on zoom, and then they’ll go back to work.”

5: And what if it snows a bunch?: The region could get as much as a foot of snow today. Franklin told a good story of getting a bunch of snow one day when he was an assistant at Maryland.

“My wife’s got a great story that she always tells on this,” he said. “When we were at the University of Maryland, I think I was the offensive coordinator, it snowed … like 30 inches, something crazy. I woke up and I was like, Alright, I’ll see you. She’s like, Where are you going? I’m like, I’m going to work.

“I think I had some type of like SUV, so I was like, I’m going. And I couldn’t get out of the driveway, and then I spent like the next six hours shoveling the driveway. And my wife was just like laughing at me the whole time.

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

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