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Penn State Football: Franklin’s Top 15 Coaches Caravan Quotes (Plus a Brief Tour History)

by on May 03, 2018 9:30 PM

Penn State kicks off its sixth Coaches Caravan in seven years on Tuesday.

NYC to Philly to D.C.

That's it.

It's a far cry from the 18-stop marathon that Bill O'Brien led, from Philadelphia to Baltimore to Washington, D.C. to Richmond to Harrisburg to Hazleton to Lehigh Valley to Woodbridge to New York City to Hartford to Scranton to Altoona to Pittsburgh to Youngstown to Cleveland to Erie to Buffalo. And home.

The inaugural caravan, spread out over 11 days on its way to seven states and the nation's capitol, covered almost 2,000 miles as Penn State took to the road to repair its image and bolster its fan base.

You can measure how far the university and the football program have come since 2012 by how far they do not have to travel in 2018.

Back-to-back 11-victory seasons in the fall can save a lot of wear and tear in the spring.

Next week's caravan is the third for head football coach James Franklin, who headlined the caravan in 2014 and 2015, before the tour went on hiatus in 2016. The caravan returned last year.

And it is back again, as 2018's three stops will bring the caravan totals to 45 days and 69 stops. To register, click here. Registration is limited to members of the Nittany Lion Club and the Penn State Alumni Association.

To prep you for the flow of quotes that will emanate from Franklin and Nittany Lion head coaches Char Morett-Curtiss, Russ Rose and Pat Chambers, as well as athletic director Sandy Barbour, we offer some of Franklin's most memorable quotations from his first three caravans:


NON-STOP RECRUITING: "When you say recruiting, recruiting is everything. Recruiting is recruiting players to come to your program. Recruiting is recruiting qualified, talented staff to come and work. Recruiting is filling up the stadium. Every single person I meet is a Penn State football fan, and if they’re not by the time I’m done talking, they should be. Every aspect of it is important. The success you have on the field, the success you have in the classroom, how you’re conducting yourself in the community, the recruiting, the branding, the technology — every single piece of it is important."

THE RECRUITING FOOTPRINT: “I made a comment earlier, and I think people took it out of context, but we’re going to treat New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, D.C. and northern Virginia as in-state areas for us in terms of the attention that we put on it. You take a six-hour radius of campus, that’s what we’re going to treat as in-state. Then we’ll go other places to recruit nationally to do what we have to do to put our roster together. We’re going to approach it as in-state.”

HIS WHITE HONDA ACCORD: "I never forget getting the Washington State job (in 1998) and getting in my 1988 Honda Accord with over 170,000 miles on it and driving what I think was 37 hours from Philly to Pullman, Wash. I was thinking it was really pretty cool at first that I could put everything I owned in a 1988 Honda Accord. About six hours into the drive I said, ‘You know, this is pathetic. I’ve been out of college like six years and I can fit everything I own in a 1988 Honda Accord.' "

BEING SENSITIVE ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK: “My issue is, a lot of people say they don’t care what people think. I do. So, when I go to Wegman’s and 45 people come up to say hi, I don’t want anyone who comes up to leave not having a good impression about me. …It’s hard to walk away from an autograph because I want everyone who has an interaction with me or Penn State football for it to be positive. And that’s not always possible. At some point, you have to walk away. But that’s kinda my personality. I want to leave a good impression on everybody. People and what people think are important to me.”

HIS EXTREME PERSONALITY: "NFL scouts bring donuts. I won't go buy a donut — but if they're sitting there, I'll eat seven. I have an extreme personality. All or nothing."

IF HE WASN'T A COACH: "I would’ve had to be interacting with people and feel like I was making a difference in someone’s life. Sociology, psychology, teaching...It’d be something involved with people. Maybe working on a college campus."


"LIKING" RECRUITING: "Let me make sure we're clear on that. I enjoy winning. Being successful and winning... Good players count. So yeah, I enjoy recruiting because I enjoy getting to know people and getting to build relationships and getting to go into a young man's home or high school and get to know him and where he's from. I enjoy all of that, but it's because I want to see Penn State be successful and I want see our players be successful."

BEING RAISED BY WOMEN: “My Aunt LeWanda, my Aunt Romaine, my Aunt Melbadene. …my grandma was Leoda – all my family came from Rocky Mount (N.C.). That’s really the people I grew up with. They were my dad’s cousins. They all came from this farm in Rocky Mount, picking cotton. We can actually trace my family on my dad’s side all the way back to the first free slave (in the family). We still have family property there, we still have a family cemetery there. The first were named Battle -- their original name – and they’re still buried on family property.”

HIS HERITAGE: “I have a unique background. It’s not so unique these days, but it was growing up. Being biracial is not unique these days, which is a powerful thing for this country in many ways. In a lot of ways it’s probably going to change our country for the better, in terms of eradicating racism in our country. I’ve seen some interesting pictures on the Internet what a person is going to look like 50 years from now. It’s just going to be this blend of all these different people.”


WHAT HE DOES BEST: "To be honest with you, I take a little offense when people always say, 'Well, those guys at Penn State and James Franklin, they're great recruiters.' Well, I get that. But at this point, after what we did at Vanderbilt and what we did at Penn State and what we're doing at Penn State, that these guys do a great job of developing their players, they do a great job of coaching their players. There's nothing wrong with being a great recruiter, but I think our staff and our program are more than that."

NO. 1 AT DEVELOPING PLAYERS: "It's funny, when you're talking about facilities, when you're talking about salaries, about all these things and say, 'Well, we don't need to be the best with those things, but we need to be in that conversation.' What is it that we do better than everybody else in the country, where we can say, 'Look at us, we're the model.' I would make the argument — it's probably not something that is easily calculated — but it's development. You look at what we did in our previous institution (Vanderbilt) in three years. We did a heckuva job at development."

MAKING CHANGES: "There's a sense of urgency because if we had been pecking away at this for the last 20 years, then no. The fact that we hadn't done anything for 15 years, then yeah, because we weren't doing things other people were. We had fallen behind, so that's why I was pounding the table so much when I first got here because I knew how far behind we had fallen."

BEAVER STADIUM: "That is not really a conversation for me. I'm not really kind of involved in the Beaver Stadium project. What I do know is that there are issues there that I have heard from people, with the bathrooms, with the different things that we're able to offer with the stadium — food, bathrooms, just different things that people expect now in a modern stadium. We have issues with technology, issues with being able to use the stadium year-round because of pipes freezing and things like that, the way the stadium was built. There's a lot of issues."

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT: "In Year 3, I don't think anyone would have predicted that we would have won a Big Ten championship, with our first year back to 85 (scholarships). That's the thing I'm probably most proud of."

STALL ADVICE: “I did get some advice in the bathroom. This year, while I was using the restroom, someone recommended running the zone read out of the Power-I with both Saquon (Barkley) and Miles [Sanders] on the field. That was an interesting conversation..."

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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