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Penn State’s James Franklin Takes a Seat at His Own Presser to Watch Maryland-Ohio State

by on November 17, 2018 6:00 PM

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — With less than a minute to go in regulation of Saturday’s Ohio State-Maryland game, James Franklin sheepishly ducked his head into the visitors’ post-game media room in the bowels of Highpoint Stadium.

Franklin was to be the focus of a post-game presser following Penn State’s 20-7 win over Rutgers here.

But the game between the Buckeyes and the Terrapins — Penn State’s opponent next Saturday — was rushing to a nail-biting conclusion.

And Franklin, like the 70 or so media members in the room, was more interested in the final outcome of that game than rehashing the Nittany Lions’ somewhat mundane eighth win of the season. He had just come from the Nittany Lion locker room, where many of his players were watching the game on their phones.

“Do you want to do this now or wait until the game’s over?” came the question as Franklin laughed, but meant it.

The answer from the chorus of reporters was “wait” (at least for regulation). Franklin quickly made himself at home, pulling up a seat in the front row of the press conference — held in what is usually the Rutgers’ cornerbacks meeting room — next to David Jones of PennLive.com, on the Penn State beat since 1991.

The #relationship coach dressed in PSU blue put his arm around the shoulder of the acerbic columnist wearing Halloween black and orange. The two of them hunkered down to watch the final few seconds of the game in College Park together, with several dozen other onlookers.

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Jones has an iPhone 7, but it was running a bit slow. So Franklin, along with Jones, shifted their attention back a row to watch the game on the Samsung laptop of Derek Levarse, who is with the Times Leader Media Group and has covered the Penn State football beat since 2003.

WHO'S IN THE PHOTO?

I took the above photo of that scene. It has the look of one of those Renaissance masterpieces you see hanging in a museum in Florence or Amsterdam. Certainly not Piscataway.

The photo, from left to right: Levarse’s hand and phone; the cut-off face of Cory Giger of The (Altoona) Mirror and host of his own daily sports talk show; Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune and to his right an unidentified reporter in glasses and beard. (There’s always someone like that in such paintings.) John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times, in a green plaid shirt, peaks from behind Franklin. Off of McGonigal’s left shoulder, at the back of the room, is Penn State deputy director of athletics Phil Esten and director of football operations Michael Hazel. Then there’s Franklin and Jones, and in the background is bemused veteran Blue White Illustrated editor Nate Bauer, Tweeting out what was unfolding. The person in the bright blue shirt to the far right is Greg Pickel, also of PennLive.

It was a rare behind-the-curtains scene with Franklin, who watched the final seconds of regulation with the room full of reporters and broadcasters — and as one of them, albeit briefly. The beat regulars see Penn State’s fifth-year head coach several times a week August through November, but have rarely experienced such an unvarnished moment with him.

Sitting among the reporters, Franklin quizzed them about how many yards Terps running back Anthony McFarland had (he finished with 298 yards rushing and two TDs), threw in a couple of “wows” and added a few head shakes.

Franklin let his figurative hair down a bit, and for a few minutes there were no questions about an offense that has averaged 22 points over the last seven game, or a closer-than-expected margin of victory or a passing game that at times doesn’t pass muster.

That came soon enough.

BACK TO BUSINESS

Once the Ohio State-Maryland game headed in to overtime at 45-45 (the Buckeyes ended up winning 52-51), Franklin took the podium to answer some questions, shifting from the Fourth Estate to the Head Coach.

A few minutes in, Jones asked one of his typically meandering questions — specifically about what, who can be sure? And to use the word ”question” may be a misnomer.

Franklin flashed a grin at his new press conference seatmate, and said, “I love your questions...statements? They’re statements.”

It was back to business as usual.



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and 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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Penn State Football: Nittany Lions Down Rutgers, 20-7
November 17, 2018 3:16 PM
by Derek Bannister
Penn State Football: Nittany Lions Down Rutgers, 20-7
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