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10 Questions With James Franklin Mattern

Watch out, James Franklin. There’s another James Franklin out there.

James Franklin Mattern, a Penn State fan who was born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania, shares more than just a name with Penn State football’s head coach – Mattern even looks like him.

We reached out to Mattern to learn more about what it’s like to live life as ~almost~ James Franklin.

Onward State: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do, etc.?

James Franklin Mattern: I was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, but currently live in Beverly Hills, California. I’m a partner in a specialty insurance business (boring), but also help facilitate investments for technology companies and cannabis businesses across the country. My wife and I also have a production/management company where we produce online streaming content and represent a few rappers and a few boxers.

OS: How did you get the name “James Franklin?” Were you named after a family member, or is there some other connection?

JFM: James was my great-grandfather’s name and Franklin was my grandfather’s name… I basically have three last names.

OS: When did you first realize that you shared the same name as a CFB head coach?

JFM: When the other JF was head coach at Vanderbilt.

OS: In your pictures, you look remarkably like Penn State’s head coach. Is this a chosen look, or have you rocked the goatee before you were aware of the connection?

JFM: I’ve rocked a goatee or beard for decades… making up for the lack of hair on the top of my head!

OS: Do you often get comments on the similarities between you and Franklin? Do people say that you look like the head coach, or realize that you have the same name?

JFM: In Beverly Hills… not often. But whenever I see someone with PSU gear on, I often get a reaction. I was popular at this year’s Rose Bowl game… several fans took pictures with me and your colleague did an interview with me during halftime.

OS: Do you have a favorite college football team, and if so, how did you come to support them?

JFM: Well, my alma mater was in the D2 National Championship game this year (Colorado School of Mines), but it’s tough to watch them other than during playoffs. But I’ve been a Penn State fan from birth.  Reportedly my placenta was blue (and I’m white… so…). I don’t remember that personally, however. My dad (Penn State ’51) had season tickets for 40+ years. I went to my first game at Beaver Stadium in 1976 – I was 11 years old. I used to listen to the games as a teenager on a transistor radio (Google it) while cutting the grass at our home in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

OS: Are you a James Franklin fan? Have you rooted for him as a head coach?

JFM: Absotively. Posilutely.

OS: Franklin is sometimes a controversial figure on campus. Do you have any thoughts on the man as a coach?

JFM: I was unaware he was controversial. Everything I know about the man, I like. Being in the public eye, not everyone is going to like you. If you’re true to yourself, your family, and God, that’s the best you can do in life. I don’t judge people on what mistakes they’ve made… that does not define a person… that’s what they did, not who they are. Love conquers all and he has been a positive influence to many young men and women – I am sure.

OS: Have you ever met or reached out to Franklin? Do you know if he’s aware of your connection?

JFM: Never met the other JF, but I attempted to get his attention before the Rose Bowl on social media. If he was aware, we’d be best friends by now.

OS: Finally, per Onward State tradition, if you could be a dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

JFM: Interesting question, considering I am a geophysicist by degree – I would definitely be a Supersaurus. If you’re going to go big, might as well go really big!

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a senior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He writes about everything Penn State, especially its 10-2 football team. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

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