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Penn State Football: Franklin's Plans for Changes in Summer Practice & Winter Signings

by on June 15, 2017 10:30 PM

Most of the questions at James Franklin's press conference on Thursday were uniform.

You know, all about the Nittany Lions' helmets and jerseys, socks and shoes for their 2017 home game against Indiana.

As part of the unveiling, Franklin held court with 35 or so members of the media in the bowels of Beaver Stadium.

After a two-minute preamble about the genesis of the "Generations of Greatness" uniforms, Franklin took questions from the floor. And, for the most part, the questions were alike — "uniform," get it? — in that they had to do with the new-/old-look Lion outfit.

Only four of the dozen queries by the media didn't have to do with the unforms, so new news other than that about patches and stripes and Nike swooshes was pretty limited in what was Franklin's first media opp in five weeks. (Two of the four questions came from this corner.)

Speaking of swooshes, I count at least a very-football-like 11 on the whole get-up: helmet, jersey, pants, white shoes (2), socks (2), tights (2) and gloves (2). Say it ain't so, Joe. In case you were wondering, the Nike swoosh first appeared on a Penn State jersey in 1994.

Some non-uniform news did swoosh out, but not much. Here are four things we learned that had to with summer practices and winter signings.

4 NEWS BITES

1. In April the NCAA outlawed two-a-day drills, beginning this preseason, which we knew. But the news is that Franklin said not many folks did two practices in one day with pads, anyway. Penn State didn't, but Franklin did have some second non-pad sessions mixed in during the run-up to the season. No more.

"(For) the two-a-day thing, most rules that we have in the NCAA book — as well as probably anywhere else in state government and national government — you put in place for maybe 5% of people abusing it in the first place," Franklin said. "Almost everywhere I've worked the old two-a-day model has been gone for a long time. You may have had a second practice, but it was a modified practice.

"So most people were doing this (new, no two-a-day) model anyway, but the second practice may have been a jog-through, may have been a lighter practice, whatever it may be. For most people, I'd say the majority of programs out there, it's not a major change."

2. In conjunction with the NCAA's one-practice-per-day dictum also came its OK for teams to start practice earlier than usual, since the number of practices permitted before the opening game — in Penn State's case, Sept. 2 against Akron — hasn't changed.

That number is 29. And it will be imposible for Franklin to get all of them in, given when Penn State starts official drills, combined with the NCAA mandate that teams need to have one day off a week during summer camp.

"We always had days off in our camp anyway, from my time at Vanderbilt and my time here at Penn State," Franklin said. "So that's not really a new element for us. But being able to have the 29 practice opportunities change — talking to most of the coaches that I know, there's a few that aren't changing their model at all in terms of the number of days that they're coming into camp.

"There are some coaches that have taken a kind of compromise between the two. And then there's some that are using the entire calendar. Most are kind of falling in between. They're not extending it as far as they could. They're not leaving as it was and they're finding a middle ground, which is what we did. And I think most people are doing that. So I get it."

Franklin, to his credit, is not cramming in all 29. He understands there are limits to what his players should be asked to do. The overwhelming majority will be taking classes through much of summer drills. In addition, as we saw last season, the regular season could extend to the Big Ten title in Indy, this year slated for Dec. 2. That's four consecutive months of football, with a bye crammed in after six games in early October.

"...the other issue you have is we're talking about the length of season and time demands on the athletes anyway," Franklin said. "So it doesn't really make sense to add another week to the season, if we're talking about time demands. But I do get why we're doing it and how it came about."

3. Now that there are two national signing dates — one in late December and the other in early February (the traditional date) — Franklin said Penn State won't do two signing day "celebrations."

"The signing day will become the first signing day," said Franklin, reiterating his stance made a few times before. "I think 90 percent or 80 percent of prospects across the country will sign on the first signing day. So I think that will become the signing day. Then the next one will kind of finish the class off.

"So, no, we would not have two signing day celebrations," he said.

4. In fact, Penn State may eventually do away with the idea of signing day celebrations altogether, which Franklin took the next level and beyond for Penn State when he arrived in 2014. The very first one included a night-time "Signature Event" that was held in the Bryce Jordan Center, before the day was eventually scaled back to balloons, "draft day" announcements and made-to-order omelets in the Lasch Building.

"I could even see a situation where we don't have a signing day celebration," Franklin said. "I could see that maybe going away because you don't have that one moment in time that really is -- it de-emphasizes it, I guess is what I would say, when you have two and not one kind of closure to it all.

"So, yeah, we will not have two for sure. We could have one, but I also could see a component of that going away at a lot of places around the country."

Who knows? It could even be uniform.



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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