Penn State Football: The Gifts and Numbers of James Franklin’s Six-Year Anniversary
January 09, 2020 7:45 PM
by Mike Poorman
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Saturday will mark James Franklin’s six-year anniversary at Penn State.

Thinking of getting him a present? (Beyond his new contract, that is.)

Well, traditional gifts are candy and iron — for sweetness and strength.

The address: 201 Lasch Building, University Park, PA 16802.

If you’re Sandy Barbour, maybe you’re thinking of getting James the contemporary gift for the sixth anniversary — wood, which signifies a long-lasting and solid marriage.

Franklin was officially announced as the Nittany Lions’ 16th head coach on Saturday, January 11, 2014.

As of Saturday, January 11, 2020, CJF will have been at PSU for 2,191 days ago. That’s 314 weeks. 

More than Vanderbilt, at 1,119 days. Or the Green Bay Packers, at 314 days. But less than Maryland, at 2,878 days when you count his two stops.

Franklin has coached 79 games at Penn State — 56 victories and 23 losses.

With a 42-11 record since 2016. For a winning percentage of .792. Only Dabo (.950) and Saban (.929) have been better over the past four years.

Of those 11 losses, eight were by a combined 23 points (1, 1, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4 and 5). 

There’s been one Big Ten title, and finishes of 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th in the Big Ten East.

Six bowls, three of them New Year’s Six: Pinstripe, TaxSlayer, Rose, Fiesta, Citrus and Cotton.

With a win-loss record of 3-3 in bowls, 3-3 in WhiteOuts (3-1 since 2016), 5-13 vs. Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State — and 5-7 since 2016, and 9-14 vs. ranked teams (9-9 since 2016).

He’s made $30.67 million. And counting, with his second contract extension in 125 weeks (Aug. 18, 2017, then Dec. 6, 2019) announced but the terms not shared. 

Meantime, Penn State football has grossed $550 million.

And has drawn 4,336,837 fans Beaver Stadium.

Plus three consecutive ESPN GameDays to campus.

Built by 56 consecutive weeks in The Associated Press weekly Top 25…with 57 coming next Tuesday.

There's been a first-ever (albeit one week) berth in the College Football Playoff.

Honors won: Penn State Renaissance Fund honoree, national Coach of the Year, Big Ten Coach of the Year. While boasting annual recruiting class rankings, according to, of 15, 21, 12, 5, 11 and 14.

He's coached 12 first-team All-Big Ten selections. Three first-team All-Americans (Saquon, Micah and Carl Nassib).

And 21 NFL Draft picks.

Since he arrived at Penn State, there have been 34 other head football coaches in the Big Ten, counting interims. (1 – Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan State; 2 – Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State; 3 – Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, Wisconsin; 4 – Maryland, Nebraska; 5 – Rutgers.)

And in that time, of the 130 current FBS head football coaches, 99 were hired by their school after January 14, 2014.

He’s had four offensive coordinators, two defensive coordinators, one strength and conditioning coach. Just three original assistants are still in place: Brent Pry, Sean Spencer and Terry Smith…four if you count — and you should — Dwight Galt.

Ten assistant coaches have departed, 11 have arrived. Some fit both categories.

There have been four starting quarterbacks and three leading rushers from Pennsylvania over the past five seasons.

He's already fifth in all-time wins for Penn State head coaches, with 56, behind Joe Paterno (409), Rip Engle (104), Bob Higgins (91) and Hugo Bezdek (65). Different eras, time circumstances, these are their records after 79 games: Franklin, 56-23; Paterno, Big Ten play, 66-13; Paterno, begin career, 65-13-1; Engle, 50-26-3; Higgins, 33-41-5; Bezdek, 48-18-13.

Just two presidents and two athletic directors. (He was hired by Rod Erickson and Dave Joyner....who also hired Bill O’Brien.)

(But the same two since Barbour was hired on July 14, 2014, making Barron-Barbour-Franklin the second-longest tenured such trio in the Big Ten, after Northwestern, whose troika has been together since 2009.)

And, all of this even though his first two seasons were played under the yoke of reduced numbers and myriad hardships caused by the NCAA sanctions. 

Franklin did it. And, like Frank, he did it his way. (Hugs all around.)

But he also did it with a key group of assistants, staffers and supporters who have been with him every step of the way, in addition to Barron and Barbour:

Wife Fumi and daughters Sola and Addy; strength guru Galt; loyal assistants Pry, Smith and Spencer; recruiting director Andy Frank; administrators and aide de camps Kevin Threlkel and Michael Hazel; finance savants David Gray and Rick Kaluza; academic counselor Todd Kulka; publicist Kris Petersen; and last, but definitely not the least — hey, Franklin thanks them all the time — the Penn State Board of Trustees.

Their presence has been a gift to Franklin. He should send them all candy.

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