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Notes from Penn State HC James Franklin, Arkansas HC Sam Pittman Joint Outback Bowl Press Conference

Early Wednesday afternoon, the two men who will be coaching in the 2022 Outback Bowl– Penn State’s James Franklin and Arkansas Sam Pittman– held a joint press conference. Here are some notes from their appearance.


The press conference started on a light note, to say the least.

Both Franklin and Pittman were asked who they could see playing them should their lives ever be turned into a biopic. 

“It’s either going to be The Rock or Denzel Washington, obviously,” Franklin said. “One of those two. I’m glad you kind of gave me a reference because I didn’t know what you were talking about when you first started talking. Yeah, probably The Rock. Similar body type, charisma.”

“I think of Jack Nicholson,” Pittman said. “He’s older, more mature, got a lot of gray like I do. I don’t know, I think he’s made a lot of money. That’s who I’d like to do it, be representing me.”


Six Nittany Lions have opted out of the Outback Bowl, and all six played prominent roles. This obviously presents a challenge for Franklin, as well as any head coach in college football.

It gives coaches like Franklin a challenge, but Franklin knows to emphasize the men that are still playing for Penn State.

“What I would say is I’m focused on the guys that are in our locker room,” Franklin said. That doesn’t mean that I’m not happy and excited and supportive of the guys that are not. But I’m excited about the guys that are in our locker room and I’m excited about the guys that are going to have bigger roles.”


A player who hasn’t opted out but hasn’t practiced all week is offensive tackle Rasheed Walker. 

Walker was spotted on crutches earlier this week, and Olumuyiwa Fashanu will start in his place.

Fashanu almost started for Penn State against Rutgers Nov. 20, but couldn’t due to injury. 

Is Fashanu up to the challenge?

“Better be, right?” Franklin said. “Yeah, he was going to start earlier in the year, had an injury, was unable to start. That’s when Landon (Tengwall) went in and started and played really well as a true freshman. But, yeah, we’ve been preparing and planning. Like I said, Olu was going to start during the year. Now we’re in a position obviously that he’s going to do it on Saturday. We have a lot of faith and confidence in him. It’s going to be exciting to watch him go out and play. He’s had a really good week of practice.”


When Pittman was asked about Penn State’s tight ends, he spoke highly. Penn State doesn’t yet have a tight end of the caliber of past Lions Pat Friermuth or Mike Gesicki, but Theo Johnson, Tyler Warren and Brenton Strange make for a deep group. 

“They’re talented,” Pittman said. “I mean, Penn State has a big, thick running back as well. (Keyvone) Lee I believe. He’s a good player, a big player. Off of that, they run a little play-action, coming off to the tight ends. Those guys are really good blockers, good catchers. They’re very talented.”

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