Everyone knew that James Franklin was charismatic. Fewer, perhaps, anticipated his captivating performance an hour in the jam-packed Beaver Stadium media room as he addressed Nittany Nation for the first time.
“I’m a Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart,” Franklin said. “I always dreamed of this opportunity…it’s funny, when my wife and I were dating, we talked about my dream job, and I always said Penn State.”
Franklin said all the right things, and emphasized the spirit of building the program up to a national powerhouse. Despite its recent success, Franklin knew that ultimate goal was never going to happen at Vanderbilt, which was probably his central reason taking the Penn State job.
“I believe in a true student athlete. This is a place where a young man can have it all…that’s why I made this decision,” Franklin said. “We plan on being here for a long time. This is my dream job. This is where I want to be.”
Most exciting of all, though, was Franklin’s apparent commitment to recruiting. His Vanderbilt recruiting stories are endless — how he flew a helicopter all over the state, dropping in on high schools to build nationally ranked recruiting classes for the last two seasons.
“Our recruiting philosophy: We are going to dominate the state and we are going to dominate the region,” Franklin said. “I’m calling all the high school coaches, I’m calling all the people in the state, and we need to come together like never before.”
A reporter asked Franklin about the attendance at Penn State and how it was significantly higher than Vanderbilt. When the reporter cited 90,000 as the number of fans at each game, Franklin cut him off.
“90,000? Did you say 90,000?” Franklin said, bemused. “No. 107,000 fans at every…single…game from here on out. That stadium will be sold out every…single…game starting now.”
Unlike O’Brien, Franklin didn’t announce any of his staff just yet. He was specifically asked twice about now-former interim coach Larry Johnson and if he was being considered for the staff. Franklin wouldn’t address Johnson directly, but he said he was going to sit down and interview several members of the current coaching staff. He mentioned that recruiting prowess would be a key component to his staff — something that Johnson undoubtedly is known for.
“We will recruit every corner of this state. Every school of this state. Every neighborhood of this state,” Franklin said. “I have a tremendous respect for the University of Pittsburgh…but WE ARE Penn State.”
There has been an undercurrent, however small, of dissenters who advocated against hiring Franklin because of a rape incident at Vanderbilt last season (we covered that in full here). Franklin called the situation the “toughest thing” he’s ever gone through. Athletic Director Dave Joyner jumped in to say that Franklin was “thoroughly vetted” and that he is undoubtedly a “man of integrity.”
Feeble criticism aside, one thing is for sure. The James Franklin era is here. And I can’t wait for it to get started.
“My name is James Franklin, the next head football coach at Penn State University, and I couldn’t be more proud to be here.”