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James Franklin Talks Adjusted Schedule, Potential Season On ‘Ross Tucker Football Podcast’

Penn State football head coach James Franklin joined “The Ross Tucker Football Podcast” Monday to discuss the Big Ten’s new conference-only schedule, the potential college football season, and the strategies he and his staff are taking amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Franklin began the call by offering some insight into the Big Ten’s decision to limit fall sports to conference-only schedules.

“I get it,” Franklin said. “We’ve been talking about it for a couple of weeks. I think the biggest thing is the control that it creates. What I mean by that is if we do have a stoppage of play and the conference needs to shut things down for a couple of weeks, it’s obviously easier to do that when it’s all conference on conference.”

Franklin continued, explaining there will be protocols to make sure everyone is as safe as can be. He described the decision as “the best thing to do moving forward.”

Franklin also expressed hope that there can still be a Big Ten title game and even a College Football Playoff if “things continue to trend in that direction.”

However, despite the announcement from the Big Ten, it is still up in the air as to whether Penn State will have a 2020 football season. Franklin, like the rest of us, has no definitive opinion on the subject as the coronavirus continues to affect people across the country.

“I think it depends on the day…just to be completely honest,” he said. “This thing is crazy. I think we saw this weekend the biggest spike in the history of COVID in Florida over a single day. More than New York.”

On July 1, the university announced 102 student-athletes had tested negative for the coronavirus, while none tested positive. Franklin believes Penn State’s testing plans are in the right place so far but attributes the good news to some good luck lately.

Franklin’s team has faced many challenges since returning to campus this summer, including working out in small groups and limiting contact when possible.

“You’re trying to be as efficient as you possibly can,” Franklin said. “You are always trying to get 15 pounds of stuff into a 10-pound bag to maximize. Right now we’re not working like that.”

Franklin and his staff have needed to be strategic in preparing for every situation amid the pandemic.

“You can’t have a staff meeting where I got all the coaches in the room at the same time because you could lose your whole staff,” Franklin explained. “You can’t have a quarterback meeting where you have all your quarterbacks. That’s why I could see us continuing to use Zoom for a long time.”

Franklin also said full-team practices are too risky at this point in time.

Tucker and Franklin then switched gears to talk about the Nittany Lions’ past success. With a 42-11 record in the last four seasons, Penn State has been one of the more consistent teams in the country. Franklin is clearly proud of what the team has done but says there is room for improvement.

“For programs like Penn State, it’s the playoffs or nothing,” Franklin said.

Franklin also touted the development of Penn State’s star players, including Micah Parsons and Journey Brown. He believes talents like these should help bring Penn State to the next level this fall.

“I don’t know if there are too many programs in the country that have developed the way that we have over the last four years,” Franklin said.

Franklin closed the call by talking about minority head coach hiring across the NFL and college football.

“Diversity is important in our country,” he explained. “You hear different perspectives, you hear different things, different viewpoints. All of those things are really important. In the interview process, it’s important as well. As long as you’re doing it with an open mind. You never know where it’s going to lead.”

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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