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What James Franklin Says About His Penn State Contract, a New Coordinator and Bowl Play-Calling…Coming on Friday?

by on December 19, 2019 6:00 PM

What does Penn State coach James Franklin have to say about his new contract and the hiring of a new offensive coordinator?

We’ll have to wait for his answers until 10:45 a.m. on Friday.

Franklin held his first of two scheduled media conferences in a 44-hour span on Wednesday afternoon, after 27 high school football players signed their National Letter of Intent to attend Penn State in 2020.

But the writers and broadcasters on hand in the Beaver Stadium media room were asked “to keep the questions today to recruiting. The coach,” said team spokesperson Kris Petersen, “will address any questions regarding the team or bowl on Friday…”

A lot of us can’t wait.

So, here are my 10 questions for Friday, ahead of time.

(Each is accompanied by a statement or two, which is a newly-revealed pet peeve of Franklin’s, when opinions, facts, #fakenews or incorrect hypotheses creep their way into a question. I’m with him; presser questions should be short and to the point, and not an opportunity for a reporter to riff or pontificate.)

1. When will you name your new offensive coordinator and will he come from the current staff or outside the program?

Statements: 1.) On Wednesday, Franklin let just one sentence about a new hire slip into his replies: “We’re going to go out and hire a really good guy to come in and continue us climbing and growing to where we want to go.” He didn’t say if the new guy would be OC or QB coach — or both. But both jobs are open.

2.) The “climbing” reference is a nice homage to CJF’s pal, Pat Chambers.

3.) It took Franklin 12 days to replace John Donovan, two days to replace Joe Moorhead and one day to replace Bob Shoop.

2. Who will be your new offensive coordinator?

Statement: Names that have been bandied about include Bowen, Brady, Breiner, Ciarrocca, DeBoer, Gattis, Gleeson, Lashlee, Lutz, McNulty, Pardini, Perry, Poorman, Seider, Yurcich…blink twice if I hit upon one that is right.

3. Have you considered calling plays yourself in the Cotton Bowl?

Statements: 1.) This will be the third of Franklin’s six bowl games at PSU where he will have an interim play-caller. Rahne did the trick in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl and the 2017 Fiesta Bowl.

2.) Franklin was the offensive coordinator/play-caller for the Kansas State Wildcats (2006-07) and the Maryland Terrapins (2008-10). Those teams, averaged, by season: 22.8, 35.2, 21.8, 21.3 and 32.3 points per game. He also was the offensive coordinator (and QB) for the Roskilde Kings in the Danish American Football Federation in 1996.

3.) Penn State is 2-3 in bowl games under CJF.

4. Were you surprised Ricky Rahne took the Old Dominion job and in what ways, if any, did you encourage him to do so?

Statements: 1.) Through his six years at Penn State, Rahne said publicly a number of times he didn’t want to be a head coach. What changed?

2.) Please note that Penn State finished the final nine games of 2018 with a 5-4 record and averaged 24.1 points, and over the last four games of 2019, Penn State was 2-2 and averaged 26 points — including just 17 vs. Ohio State, thanks in large part to turnovers that led to scoring drives of 12 and 11 yards.

5. When will the terms of your new contract be released?

Statements: 1.) The Board of Trustees announced an extension of Franklin’s contract on Friday, December 5. Two weeks ago. It was the second extension of Franklin’s original contract, which was slated to run through December 31, 2019, and was then, in August 2017, extended to December 31, 2022.

2.) In the interest of transparency, Penn State had made Bill O’Brien’s contracts, then Franklin’s “proposed financial term sheet,” available for view online at https://www.publicaccess.psu.edu under a link titled “Head football coach financial terms through 2022.” That link no longer works.

6. Was the report that you recently met with representatives or agents of Florida State University true? If yes, why did you meet with them?

Statement: 247 Sports reported that Franklin met with representatives the weekend of the Penn State-Rutgers game. In his post-game press conference on Nov. 30, Franklin said that, “I am actually going with my family in the morning to go see Saquon (Barkley) and Grant Haley and a young man by the name of Spencer (Pulley), who played for me at Vanderbilt, so we are going to the Giants game in the afternoon and then I will go recruiting from there.”

7. Do you see any parallels between players entering the transfer portal to explore their options and coaches meeting with other schools to do the same while still under contract?

Statement: None necessary.

8. Beyond Yetur Gross-Matos, do you know of any players with eligibility for the 2020 Penn State who plan to declare for the NFL Draft early?

Statements: 1.) Players with such eligibility include cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, wide receiver KJ Hamler, defensive tackle Antonio Shelton, defensive end Shaka Toney and safety Lamont Wade.

2.) Franklin did say this on Wednesday: “We’re still waiting to hear on some NFL guys, what their plans are. A lot of them have communicated — we probably have more guys coming back than maybe we anticipated before the year started, which is great, which is great. We’ve got guys that had NFL grades that could have left early, and they’re staying, and I think that’s a tremendous statement because they like what's going on. They’re happy. And we have unfinished business.”

9. Do you expect any current players, beyond Justin Shorter, to announce they will enter the transfer portal?

Statement: Penn State had approximately 15 players who went in the portal and left after last season. Two others entered the portal and subsequently stayed at Penn State: Wade and Cam Sullivan-Brown.

10. May redshirt freshman Justin Shorter, who entered the portal the week of the regular-season finale vs. Rutgers, return to your team?

Statement: Josh Moyer of the Centre Daily Times tried to get the answer to that question during a Thanksgiving Eve media scrum, but after two questions — and two inconclusive answers by Franklin — the answer was still unclear. Here’s the exchange, then you tell me if Shorter is welcomed back:

Moyer: “Can you clarify with Justin: Because of the timing, can he still choose to come back? Is he welcomed back?”

Franklin: “That’s the other thing that’s probably problematic with the transfer portal: Everyone can handle it differently. So the problem is, this school is handling it this way and this school is handling it that way, in my opinion it should be consistent across the board so there is no gray area and confusion. But we have very clear protocol that we have now. After that first wave we got together with the leadership council and the coaches and really had a discussion about what we think is fair for the players, what we think is fair for the program and be very clear on that front so everybody knows what that is. And everybody can determine how they want to work within that system. Everybody clearly understands it.”

Moyer: “You said over the summer that they can come back, but it’s up to whether you want to take away their scholarship in the meantime.”

Franklin: “Again, it’s hard for me to sit here and unless I go through our policy in detail — and there are a lot of points to it — and also it’s not like a black and white deal. Everybody’s situation is different based on how they leave, how they communicate, why they’ve leaving, there are a lot of factors that go into it.”



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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