State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Penn State Got it Right — Again

by and on January 22, 2014 2:00 PM

It was a big day at Penn State.

New Penn State football coach James Franklin entered the media room at Beaver Stadium last Saturday afternoon to a packed house — reporters from across the state descended on University Park to hear what the 16th head coach in the history of Penn State football would have to say.

He didn't disappoint.

In fact, Franklin knocked it out of the park.

Much like Bill O'Brien's introductory news conference two years ago, Franklin's hour-long opener was about as good as it gets as far as these sort of things go.

Reporters look for answers. And quotes. This guy is quotable, without a doubt.

Here are just a few of the highlights from the afternoon:

  •  “I'm excited to come home. That is probably the thing that I take the most pride in is coming home. I'm a Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart, and so excited to be here.”
  • “Our recruiting philosophy? We are going to dominate the state. We are going to dominate the state. We are going to dominate the region.”
  • “So me and my wife and my children will be out in this community. We'll not turn down a speaking engagement. We'll get out and interact with people. People ask us to come speak at schools; we're going to be there. People ask us to come speak at social events; we're going to be there. People ask us to blow up balloons at their kid's birthday party in the backyard; we'll do that as well.”
  •  “Penn State is a special place. There are only a handful of Penn States in this country. An opportunity to coach here is such a tremendous honor that I take so much pride in. We're going to wake up every morning, do a back handspring out of bed, excited about the opportunity to represent this great institution.”

OK, you get the idea.

For what it's worth, Franklin talks a good game. He says all the right things — exactly the things fans want to hear.

But he also has very tough act to follow. O'Brien's records were very good (8-4, 7-5), considering what he was faced with. Franklin has to build on the foundation that O'Brien put together. He left the program in very good shape with an excellent young quarterback in Christian Hackenberg. It will be Franklin's job to continue along O'Brien's path.

Once again, the Penn State leadership deserves a tip of the hat. For the second consecutive search, it looked outside the bubble to find its coach. It would have been easy for Penn State president Rodney Erickson and athletic director Dave Joyner to hire a “Penn State guy.”

There were plenty who were ripe for the picking — Al Golden, Mike Munchak and Larry Johnson, just to name a few. Any of the three would have been safe picks.

But instead of playing it safe, they opted for the 41-year-old Vanderbilt head coach.

Since they took over their respective roles, Erickson and Joyner have taken a lot of heat. It says here that has been misguided.

Erickson saved the football program from the death penalty by agreeing to the NCAA sanctions. Without him at the helm, Beaver Stadium would have gone dark in 2012. Instead, he signed the consent decree and kept football viable.

Joyner then went out and hired O'Brien, who was not only able to recruit, but win. After just two seasons at Penn State, he landed a head coaching job in the NFL — an amazing feat when one considers what he was dealing with here.

Now, it's on to Franklin. Was it a risky move? You bet. He's already bringing staff and recruits to University Park, but that won't mean much if the Nittany Lions don't get it done on the field.

It says here that they will. Like O'Brien, Franklin will recruit well. More importantly, he will win.

In the end, the wins will be proof that Joyner and Co. got it right — once again.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Chris Morelli is the managing editor of The Centre County Gazette.
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