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Franklin Notebook: Penn State HC Talks Beaver Stadium Renovations, More

James Franklin and the Nittany Lions get set to take on Massachusetts.

UNIVERSITY PARK — If you take a ride around Penn State this summer, you won’t find any shortage of construction happening around campus.

There is some work going on around Beaver Stadium but extensive renovations will begin after the 2024 season after the university approved the $70 million dollar project in January.

PSU coach James Franklin said Thursday that the facilities in the Lasch building, Holuba Hall, and the practice fields were the most important projects that needed to be done as far as the football program was concerned.

Beaver Stadium last underwent renovations in 2001. The newest update should begin after the upcoming season and should finish before the start of the 2027 season.

“It’s the three places we’re in 365 days a year from a development standpoint,” Franklin said. “Once that was taken care of, Beaver Stadium is the next thing. To me, Beaver Stadium is more about the athletic department, and about the university, and about the community. We’ve had great environments there. We are considered one of the great environments of college football. But we weren’t going to be able to sustain that when we hadn’t updated the stadium in a long period of time. Here we are now, and now it’s become a massive project.

Football building renovations have almost become a norm in the college game to keep up with recruiting. For instance, LSU did a $28 million dollar renovation of their football building in 2019.

The Beaver Stadium upgrades will make it possible for events other than football to be held in the venue. The Luke Combs concert in April drew 80,000 fans to the stadium, and more concerts could be held. Franklin also brought up the longtime dream of Pennsylvania hockey fans of an outdoor game between the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

“It’s about the ability to increase revenues when you’re talking about the ability to have more concerts there,” Franklin said. “Just different activities you can have there year round so you aren’t just bringing in revenue seven days a year. That’s important for the entire athletic program.”

Whiteout uncertainty

Franklin said he had a meeting Thursday morning on when the Whiteout will be held this season, but he had no answers.

There are seemingly four options of when it will happen — Sept. 28 vs. Illinois, Oct. 5 vs. UCLA, Nov. 2 vs. Ohio State, and the following week against Washington.

The logical choices would either be Ohio State or Washington, but TV contracts and Big Ten regulations have not made the answer so simple. The Big Ten has long been against playing night games due to harsh weather throughout Big Ten country, but the conference found loopholes around it last season, such as Penn State playing Michigan State in an indoor stadium in Detroit’s Ford Field.

It’s also become tough to find night games with television networks such as FOX’s Big Noon kickoff game being a popular choice for the Big Ten’s premier matchups.

“I’m probably a lot like the fans. I want it all,” Franklin said. “It’s very few times in life you get it all. You’d like the opponent and time of day, for sure. The time of day is what has really become more difficult. Now based on the different TV networks, it’s about what they think will draw the most eyes.”

Familiar faces returning to Happy Valley

More and more PSU football lettermen have been returning to State College to be a part of the Nittany Lion staff. Former PSU defensive end Deion Barnes is the team’s defensive line coach, while former center Ty Howle now coaches the tight ends.

More recently, former offensive tackle Andrew Nelson was hired as the team’s director of performance science, while Dan Connor, Alan Zemaitis, and Jordan Hill all have positions on staff.

Hill, a Steelton-Highspire High School graduate who was a Super Bowl champion with the Seattle Seahawks, was recently hired as the director of life skills.

“He had a great playing career. He’s a tremendous person,” said cornerbacks coach Terry Smith. “Now we get another person from the middle part of the state that helped solidify that region. It’s been really good to us.

“One of the questions we get in recruiting is, ‘What will happen after ball? What will happen after the NFL? What will happen later in life?’ We’re just examples to what Penn State can do for you in the future.”

Allen to coach from field

Defensive coordinator Tom Allen has been on the sidelines as Indiana’s head coach for the last seven seasons. Allen said he will still coach games from the sidelines, which has become a norm for Penn State. The last two defensive coordinators — Manny Diaz and Brent Pry — both coached from the sidelines.

“I never liked being in the box,” Allen said. “I liked being able to see everything up there. I liked being able to block out all the noise, but I always felt I lost the emotional flow of the game. I’m a pretty high-energy guy. I’d be a caged tiger in the press box.”

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