Much will be said about James Franklin’s hiring as Penn State’s 16th head coach. The former Vanderbilt coach turned that program around in Nashville, but he has had ten different coaching jobs since 1995, and some fear Penn State could end up in this same situation two or three years from now.
One thing that isn’t debatable is Franklin’s charisma and positive attitude. Here are only eight examples of Penn State’s new coach being awesome:
1. Some of you have probably already seen this video of Franklin awarding a scholarship to Vanderbilt fourth-year walk-on Marc Panu in 2012, which went viral almost instantly. It’s incredibly awesome, from the public display of gratitude all the way down to Franklin’s tucked in dad-shorts.
2. If you need an idea of Franklin’s juxtaposition to Bill O’Brien, here’s a great example. After the 2012 Music City Bowl, a Vanderbilt die hard snuck into the media room and started gushing about how much the coach and the team meant to him. Franklin stopped the press conference to hug the man and thanked him for sticking with the program and seemed genuinely grateful for the interruption. Some of you might remember when a fan snuck into an O’Brien press conference in 2012 and did the same thing. While O’Brien handled it well (complete with a “Holy schnikes!”), his response was more bemusement than Franklin’s genuine appreciation.
3) You can tell a lot about a man based on his business card. Nothing demands respect more than a well-designed card, and Franklin definitely has that part down with this cagey, metaly thing. Seriously, I’ve never seen a business card this badass. How does anyone carry more than 3 or 4 of these in one wallet? Anyway, I’m looking forward to what the Penn State version looks like.
4. It takes a lot for a man to admit to crying on national television. Franklin not only did that on ESPN’s Highly Questionable show with Dan Le Betard, but admitted to tearing up “4o to 50 times” in front of his team, something he says that his “wife makes fun of (him) for.” He also shares a great story about a team he coached in Denmark drinking Carlsberg and smoking cigarettes at practice. Oh, and he likes helicoptering into high schools on recruiting visits.
5. Everyone loves a great halftime speech, and word has it, Franklin gives some of the best. Skip to 4:43 of this video from 2012 to see part of Franklin’s as Vanderbilt took town Tennessee at home for the first time since 1982. “We’re on the beach right now…AND THE BOATS ARE BURNING! THERE’S NO OTHER OPTION!!!!”
6) While about 20-30 journalists and fans were staking out the airport Wednesday night in the freezing cold awaiting the arrival of a private jet rumored to have Franklin on it, the coach Tweeted this comfortable from his home in Destin, Florida.
Just got done my most important job, putting our girls 2 bed & making sure they know how much their dad loves them! Family first!
— James Franklin (@jamesfranklinvu) January 9, 2014
By that time, the plane was halfway back to State College and Franklin’s Twitter mentions were inevitably getting bombarded with speculating fans and reporters. There’s no doubt Franklin knew people were waiting for him at the terminal, and this bit of good-natured trolling is something to look forward to.
7) This video by The Tennesseean shows Franklin starting his day before 6 a.m. He gives bro hugs to the media (which I’m personally very excited for), and leads the team in some sort of tribal grunting exercise starting at 2:14.
8) Franklin is known for his remarkable ability as a recruiter. “Recruiting trumps everything,” he said in this Tennesseean profile. He’s pulled in top-30 classes at Vanderbilt for the past three years and, as you saw in #4, convinced Vanderbilt to buy him a helicopter to make grand entrances into high schools. This video shows Franklin on his first national signing day celebrating as each fax came in to solidify his first recruiting class and the jubilation at the school that followed.