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James Franklin Gives Intense Lecture As Part Of Sports Business Conference

James Franklin says he’s a psychopath.

The man entering his fifth season in charge of Penn State’s football program said so twice as he gave a lecture with his trademark intensity to a standing room-only crowd Friday. The lecture was part of the inaugural Penn State Sports Business Conference, which was keynoted by Kim Pegula.

Franklin discussed the four core values that his team lives by: a positive attitude, a tireless work ethic, competitiveness in every aspect of life, and self-sacrifice. These four values are the backbone of Penn State football, and Franklin elaborated on how he personally carries out each of them.

He stressed the importance of having a positive attitude at all times and chooses to attack each and every day with this attitude to ensure the success of his program.

“Show me a leader that is successful in any organization that comes in with a negative attitude,” Franklin said. “It doesn’t work. We won’t have anyone in our organization that is negative.”

During his spiel about work ethic, Franklin conceded other head coaches in the Big Ten may be more intelligent than he is, but that he knows he has the rest of the field beat in at least one facet of his coaching repertoire.

There may be smarter head coaches in the Big Ten, and there may be better looking coaches in the Big Ten,” he said, “but no one is going to outwork me. No one is going to outwork us.”

Franklin later criticized the “participation trophy” mentality some Americans have developed in recent years during his discussion of his team’s third core value: competitiveness. He thinks some Americans have become “entitled and soft” due to the presence of participation medals, but says this hasn’t impacted his two young daughters.

He shared a story about his ten-year old daughter’s experience on a local soccer team. At the end of one of her games, she asked her coach who won the game, and the coach — armed with a box filled with trophies for every player on the team — told her that everybody was a winner.

“Bullshit,” she responded.

Franklin continued and spoke about the compete level he hopes to instill in his players and coaches. While he obviously wants his players to compete on the field every day, he hopes this translates to other aspects of their lives, including the classroom.

The fourth and final core value Franklin’s team holds — sacrifice — is also the most important one in his eyes. While everybody wants to be successful in life, very few are willing to make the necessary sacrifices in order to reach that point. He shared a story of one specific player who had a B in a class, but had an exam to study for on a Thursday night.

The player chose to not go out to “the Thirst” (translation: the Phyrst) or go to bed early, instead opting to stay up late and study for the exam.

Franklin wrapped up the lecture by saying some things you wouldn’t typically hear at a business conference. He said résumés are “bullshit,” explaining he would never hire someone based off of their résumé. He also said that references are “the stupidest things in the world” because you can hand pick six people and they will obviously say wonderful things about you. Franklin judges people not based on their accomplishments, but how they conduct themselves in everyday situations.

“Everything you do is an interview to me,” Franklin said. “All the little things, including whether or not you make eye contact when I shake your hand, whether or not you hold the door for someone, and whether or not you see a piece of trash on the ground and walk past it or pick it up and put it in the trash can.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]


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