For the last two years, and a lot longer before that, the Penn State football program operated, in large part, behind closed doors. Bill O’Brien was cut from the same cloth as his former boss, Bill Belichick, a man notorious for being close-lipped with the media. Of course, O’Brien’s predecessor was a friend to the media early in his career became sour to the press as the years passed by, or at least less intimate.
Then comes James Franklin, the Langhorne native who opened himself up the media the very day that he got to Penn State. He brought his family to his introductory press conference. He let the media speak with entire coaching staff after he assembled the impressive group. And on the most exciting day of his Penn State career since his initial hiring, he turned his signing day war room into an open celebration of the impressive 2014 recruiting class that the staff assembled in just a few weeks.
While most major college football programs could be seen tightly packed around conference tables with serious looks on their faces, Franklin & Co. let the media into a room with a giant recruiting big board, an omelet station, and a whole lot of modern technology. While O’Brien wasn’t too fond of Tweeter and Spacebook, Franklin’s staff was active on social media and their iPhones and iPads, using Facetime to show commits the war room and welcome them to Penn State instead of the usual phone call.
As for the announcing the commits, it wouldn’t be like Franklin to just stand up and say it to the room. No, instead Franklin had a whole cast of characters lined up to announce and help celebrate each and every commit. Michael Mauti, who’s in town for tonight’s Signature Event, made it to the war room’s podium and microphone for one recruit. Franklin’s daughters, who were of course present for the morning’s events, had one as well. The Nittany Lion and the Blue Band and equipment manager Brad “Spider” Caldwell all announced commits too.
Once all 25 scholarships were handed out and 25 letters of intent were received, the real celebration began. Franklin played a little trumpet with the Blue Band before starting a brief media tour, speaking on CBS Sports and ESPNU this afternoon to talk up a class that is ranked in the Top 25 nationally by every major recruiting service, including ESPN, Scout, Rivals, and 247sports.
As extravagant as the morning’s events were, what really sells the idea that Franklin wants to endear to the community and be as much of an open book as he can be is tonight’s Signature Event. At 6 p.m., Franklin will be joined by LaVar Arrington, Michael Mauti, and others to celebrate the 2014 class at the Bryce Jordan Center.
And if you still don’t believe that this guy’s a whole new breed of coach, I’ll just leave you with his latest tweet:
— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) February 5, 2014
You can keep up on all of our signing day coverage at our live blog here and we’ll have updates from Franklin’s 4 p.m. press conference and the BJC event following that.