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James Franklin Eyeing ‘Next Plateau’ In New Era Of Penn State Football

If you watch James Franklin’s press conferences lately, you’ll notice that he says “it’s all of it” a lot.

This “Franklinism,” if you will, highlights the intricacies of Penn State football and college football in general. There are lots of moving parts, and it takes a full, multifaceted team effort to put together a winning program these days.

In the context of the head coach’s new 10-year contract, the Nittany Lions want to make incremental changes in lots of areas to make the leap to become an elite program.

“It’s all of it, right? Every aspect of it we have to get a little bit better,” Franklin said Wednesday. “Those little margins that you’re scratching and clawing for, they all add up. We’ve been close in some games, really close in terms of getting into the playoffs, we’ve been ranked high at times. We’ve got to be able to sustain it. That’s what this [contract] is all about.”

The head coach highlighted areas like recruiting, facilities, scheme, coaching, sleep, and nutrition as rooms for growth at Penn State. Getting just a few more high-level prospects each year adds up in the long run, and Franklin knows he needs the facilities in Happy Valley to help develop those prospects.

All of those things are a part of the “road map” of resources he mentioned in a statement Tuesday. Ever since rumors that Franklin would leave for a new job at USC or LSU started circling, he’s discussed Penn State’s desire to compete for 365 days per year through off-field battles like recruiting and facility development.

A big part of making that happen is through what the head coach calls “alignment,” which was brought up throughout contract negotiations. This means an alignment of philosophy between Franklin, the Board of Trustees, the university president, and the athletic director.

“That’s what [this contract] is all about,” Franklin said. “It’s about alignment and truly competing with the people that we expect to compete with.”

Franklin’s new deal is set to keep him as Penn State’s head coach through 2031. He’ll earn a $7 million salary through each of those next 10 years, plus incentives for winning accolades and big games.

While Franklin’s locked in long-term, Penn State President Eric Barron is set to retire in June, and Sandy Barbour’s contract will be up in 2023. But despite these changes coming to university leadership, Franklin seems to be satisfied with the road map he’s set up with Penn State’s brass. Conversations for the new deal started nine weeks ago — roughly when USC fired its head coach — and Penn State’s players were notified last week that things were said and done.

Now that the dust is finally settled, it’s going to come down to winning football games and reaching goals for Penn State. While Franklin has set a solid floor for the program since he’s taken over, he knows that not everyone in Happy Valley is not satisfied with settling for being “great” instead of “elite.”

“I think we’ve done some good things,” Franklin said. “Obviously, there’s a next plateau that we have to get to, and I recognize that and am committed to doing whatever possible to help us get there — with the help of a lot of other people that it takes. And that’s back to the alignment.”

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected].

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