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Penn State Football: Larger Goals For Franklin As Keeping Staff Together A Key For Longterm Success

by on December 16, 2016 3:20 PM

It is an odd twist in Penn State's nationally celebrated season that the Nittany Lions have very few coaching honors to show for it.

James Franklin has been nominated for Coach of The Year by a few meaningful establishments -- seemingly almost as a token gesture -- but has been passed over when the award is finally announced.

Equally true are the assistant snubs. Brent Pry has been almost a ghost in that realm despite his work with a depleted defense. Joe Moorhead hasn't made it to the finals for any applicable nationally relevant awards despite revolutionizing Penn State's offense.

In a way it's fitting. Penn State is here because of James Franklin but he's not the man behind the schemes. Penn State is here because of its offense, but only because the defense has allowed for slow starts. Penn State is here because of its defense, but only because the offense has been capable to making up for the occasionally quick deficits.

So Penn State is here because of all of its parts, not a single person, coach or unit.

And that is in many ways the much larger issue that Penn State and James Franklin in particular faces in the coming months and years. Winning games is easy, keeping a staff together, that's hard.

"You talk about our assistant coaches. I think that's a compliment," Franklin said of teams wanting to interview Penn State's coaches. "I think whenever you have assistant coaches being approached and people trying to hire your staff, that means that you're doing something right, and they want to kind of get a piece of it. I think we've had three coaches approached, three separate coaches approached for multiple head coaching jobs. I'm hoping that we're going to be able to keep the staff together as long as we possibly can, but they're talented guys and guys who are going to leave at some point for head coaching opportunities. We want that for them, but we want to try to keep the staff together as long as we possibly can."

Staff continuity has been a hit-and-miss topic for Penn State under Franklin. By and large, the changes that have been made have resulted in net gains, even Bob Shoop's departure proved problematic at worst with Brent Pry taking over the helm with ease.

But as Penn State continues to rise so too will the interest in the coaches behind it -- and in turn, so will the difficulty in maintaining that level of success with a changing staff.

So it's recruiting of a different kind that Franklin has to focus on now -- simply recruiting his own coaches to stay. Not because they want to leave, but because the calls will continue to come. Moorhead's name floated around with Purdue and Temple, Pry the season before with Georgia Southern. As much as Franklin wants that for his staff, there's little doubt what the objective is now. Keep everyone.

"For me right now, what I'm concerned about is doing everything in my power and our power here at Penn State to put all the things into place to continue to build on what we're doing right now," Franklin said. "That's the coaches, keeping our coaches together for as long as we possibly can, contracts and supporting them the best we possibly can, and then all the other things that we need to do. We've done a lot of studies on what programs across the country are doing to compete at this level, and then we're trying to put as many of those things in position as possible so we can capitalize on this momentum we have right now."

Penn State's historically vague relationship with publicly announcing contract extensions and details leaves much of any ongoing negations very much on the level of simply guessing, but it's safe to assume that Friday's statement by Franklin wasn't without its own internal motivations.

Because Franklin knows that the ship is only as good as its captain, but the captain is only as good as his crew.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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