News & Notes From James Franklin’s February Media Availability

Penn State football head coach James Franklin spoke to the media in the midst of the NCAA’s February signing day Wednesday morning.

Signing day brought its fair share of recruiting talk (including some breaking news), but Franklin had much to say elsewhere, too. The head coach offered his thoughts on the state of minority coaching hires, shifting college football rules, and, of course, numerous wisecracks about his 50th birthday.

On Minority Head Coaches In College Football

In the wake of former NFL head coach Brian Flores’s pending lawsuit against the NFL, current levels of minority representation in football coaching were again examined.

“If you really look at it from a historical perspective, the number of coaches of color in college football and in the NFL, it’s probably concerning,” Franklin said. “The fact that it’s 2022 and we’re still having these discussions and there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress is somewhat crazy.”

Franklin, who, at Vanderbilt, was once just the third Black head coach in SEC history, noted that he hopes the success of his long career may create opportunities elsewhere for future minority coaches.

On Bryce Mostella

This past weekend, Penn State defensive end Bryce Mostella accused the program of neglecting his mental health in a 16-tweet Twitter thread.

Franklin opted not to delve into Mostella’s individual situation, indicating the public forum was not the appropriate setting for a team response. That said, the Nittany Lions’ head coach did offer a brief update on Mostella’s roster status.

“He’s not currently enrolled,” Franklin said. “You can’t really be part of a team unless you’re enrolled in classes.”

On Sean Clifford

With No. 1-ranked Class of 2022 quarterback Drew Allar already enrolled at Penn State, questions have naturally surfaced surrounding the Nittany Lions’ plans at starting quarterback next season.

Despite acknowledging the importance of competition, Franklin offered strong support for returning sixth-year senior Sean Clifford.

“Sean’s our returning starter,” Franklin said. “There’s no doubt about that, but there’s competition at every position. Obviously, it’s more challenging at any position to unseat a returning starter who’s been doing it for a couple of years.”

Allar is not the only new quarterback to join the roster, with the signing of three-star prospect Beau Pribula and recent commitment from three-star walk-on Xavier Copening. The influx of new talent is not an inherent statement though.

“You rebuild your team every year, and there will be competition at every single position, including the quarterback position,” Franklin said.

On The Transfer Portal & NIL

The advent of the transfer portal and new name, image, and likeness regulations have created new opportunities and obstacles for some programs.

An often outspoken advocate of increased football spending (as proven by the details of his recent contract extension), Franklin expressed the ways in which he, the team, and the university could compete better in the emerging areas of college football.

“Whether you totally agree with the transfer portal or NIL, the reality is you have to embrace them,” Franklin said. “Once I embrace them, I have to do a good job of explaining to all the people that have a hand in Penn State football…that they understand what we are competing against.”

“All the wins that you have throughout the calendar year, they add up,” Franklin continued. “We have to be willing to do those things in all areas, year-round, for us to have the type of success we want to have consistently.”

Franklin did not disclose whether he had spoken to incoming Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi.

On Tyrece Mills

Recent safety signee Tyrece Mills has earned himself comparisons to exiting defensive stalwart Jaquan Brisker as a result of their similar play styles and routes through Lackawanna Junior College.

“In Tyrece we saw some similar traits [to Brisker],” Franklin said. “You’re talking about a guy that can play any of the three safety spots– the two deep safeties, but also that field [line]backer/safety that we like to play with.”

Franklin noted Mills’ three remaining years of eligibility as a further exciting prospect to the athletic playmaker’s skillset.

On Realigning The Big Ten’s Divisions

Reports have circled that the Big Ten is discussing realignment between the divisions.

“You have to look at…what’s in the best interest of the Big Ten,” Franklin said. “I would say some of the decisions we have made, from a scheduling perspective, were not in the best interest of the Big Ten.”

“All the way back to the decision of playing nine conference games when other conferences decide[d] to stay at eight,” Franklin continued. “One of the things that’s been said is, ‘Well, it all balances out over time,’ the history and data doesn’t show that.”

Since the institution of the College Football Playoff, there have been only two Big Ten appearances in the National Championship — both were Ohio State.

On The Fighting Acumen Of Tyler Donohue’s Baby

Lions247 reporter Tyler Donohue took the virtual media call with his baby sitting on his lap. At a point, she stopped cooperating.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I’m enjoying watching Tyler Donohue getting his rear end beat while trying to manage this at the same time,” Franklin quipped. “I got 125 of them, you got one. Let’s go.”

Quotes were lightly edited for clarity.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to [email protected] or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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