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“I’ve got ‘Chaos’ on my business card”: Penn State defensive coaches quotable


As I’ve written already, I can’t promise you how many games James Franklin and the new Penn State coaching staff will win — but I can tell you that they’ll be people who will be fun to watch, follow and listen to.


They’ll be good quotes, for instance. As such, some of the best/most entertaining/most enlightening things they said didn’t make it into any Trib stories.


Here’s some of what’s leftover from a reporter’s recorder from the day Penn State’s assistants were introduced. And these are just the defensive coaches…






“(James Franklin) does a great job as the face of the program. He’s great at that stuff. He’s a great football coach, and he’s great at that stuff. He’s hired a defensive coordinator in myself and an offensive coordinator in John Donovan, guys who complement him. We’re not looking for the spotlight; we’re not looking for stories to be told about us. We just want to recruit players and coach football, and we’re happy just being in the film room and doing the gameplan and going out and preparing guys the best we can to be successful.”


“You’ll see with our staff we’re grinders: blue‑collar guys and hard workers. He hired me from William & Mary, a I-AA program, and Brent Pry from Georgia Southern and Sean Spencer from Bowling Green, and the article in the national paper said be prepared to be underwhelmed by these hires. I promise you that still sits in my office today.”


“A t the end of the day there is only one championship defense, and we came here to build a Big Ten Championship and National Championship caliber defense.  That is the only thing we know.  Our identity is we’re an in‑your‑face style of defense that’s going to be fun to watch and even more fun for our players to play, I promise you that.  It is based on two premises, relentless pursuit and never‑ending pressure.  First thing I say to the guys all the time is everyone has a game plan until they get punched in the face.  We throw the first punch and keep on punching.  We make sure it’s not the last punch and keep on punching.  That’s who we are.”






On James Franklin: “The dude’s intense. The dude’s intense. He wakes up, he does a back handspring out of bed. He’s fired up. I tell him to stop drinking those energy drinks; ‘you don’t need any.’ He’s the fastest walker I’ve ever seen in my life. I try to keep up with him, and I can’t keep up with him. He’s the fastest walker I’ve ever seen in my life. He brings an unbelievable energy and a passion to his job. A passion for the kids and a passion for people that work with him, and I think that’s what made us special at Vanderbilt. I’ve always talked about not having a special formula – it was about what we believed in. We believed in the guy next to us, the guy in front of us and the guy behind us, and that’s what made us special.”


On his nickname of “Chaos”: “Oh my god, I can’t tell you that! I’ve been coaching D-Line since I started D-1 at UMass, and it’d always break down on chaos all the time and I’d be running around the field and I’ve kind of got a lot energy, if you can see that, right? So when I got to Vanderbilt, (strength coach Dwight Galt) would just throw it out there. One time, he said ‘Go follow Coach Chaos,’ and all of a sudden, it just became my nickname. It’s pretty cool, I got it on my business card. Kinda cool when you hand that to somebody and they look scared when they see that…”


On how he ended up at Clarion University his playing days: “I didn’t know, man, they tricked me. They tricked me on my official visit. They said, ‘Hey, this place is right near Penn State.’ Only it’s really not near Penn State. We kind of tried, and we got to Du Bois and the car broke down and somebody had to pick me up.”


“Very proud to represent Western PA, very proud to say I was a member of the Clarion Golden Eagles. I told everybody I got used to big crowds. It was 6,000 at Clarion; now it’s 107,000 here. I’m used to it. We pretended it was really louder than it was, so…”


“I want guys who attack. I want guys who are hungry. We play multiple players to keep players fresh, and I want them to play every down like it’s their last down. That’s what I want. I want them to play with their hands, I want to play with their feet and I want a malice mentality in there.”


On meeting his predecessor as Penn State’s defensive line coach: “A kid we were dealing with at UMass that was going to transfer there from Penn State, and Larry Johnson was the most professional person I ever dealt with. He gave me a glowing recommendation for the kid and told me that he just felt like the kid (wasn’t going to play at PSU) and the kid needed to move on but that kid was like his son. So that gave me the ultimate respect for him, the way he handled that.”






On James Franklin: “Not everyone is made to be a head coach, and not everyone is made to be the head coach at Penn State. But he has that engaging personality. We’re gonna do great things here.”


“I’m a faith-driven man. I believe in God. Even through the trials and tribulations I went through at Gateway, I knew that God had a plan for me and something good was going to come of it. When you’re in the storm, you don’t always think it’s going to come through. But I trusted.”
“I want to be great. I don’t want to be just another coach on the staff. I don’t want to just be where Coach Franklin says, ‘Here’s another one of my staff members.’ I want to be the guy coach Franklin comments on. That’s my life mission. I don’t want to be good. I want to be great.”


“I was instrumental when Justin King came here with Lydell Sargeant and Sean Lee and that crew… You try to piece the generations together. We’re all Penn State, whether it’s from 1950s or ’60s to here we are in 2014. We’re one family. We’re trying to get that one voice again. It can’t be underestimated. It’s very important.”


“When I was coaching at Gateway, I thought I was going to coach there forever. Then an opportunity came with Temple’s staff under Matt Rhule. I didn’t know how I would adjust. I didn’t know how I’d take coaching in Division I. … It was a great experience. I embraced it. I loved it. Now I’m all in with Division-I coaching. I’m just excited to be here. It’s a dream come true right now.”
On coaching at Penn State: “It means everything to me. It’s not just a job for me. It’s a passion. It’s something I love to do. … I represent a lot of voices. I represent a lot of alumni. For me to have this opportunity, I’m tremendously blessed. I’m fortunate. … I think it’s important because history is important, to know where we’ve come from and where we want to go. A lot of times, staffs don’t know the history. I can give them some input on how things were.”


“Joe Paterno was instrumental in my life. He recommended me for both positions. He called the administration at Gateway on both occasions. He changed my life. When we were here from ’87-91, you don’t always understand the lessons but when you’re older and more mature, you absolutely understand the lessons that were being taught. The way I coach today is very similar to him. You want to be caring and nurturing and getting to know your players, and that’s one thing he did.”


“Penn State football helped to build this university, build the mystique of Penn State. I played here from ’87 to ’91, and those years are important to me. Those years molded my life and shaped my life. It’s important to alumni that they’re recognized, that they’re important and it matters. It’s great that he’s embraced it. We’re still in the process of healing completely and looking to move forward.”


On recruiting in the WPIAL: “We’ve lost some ground there. There’s guys each year going to other Big Ten schools and ACC schools. We want to go back to Western Pa. and get the guys we want. That’s priority No. 1. Tom Bradley had that locked up pretty well, so I have some tough shoes to fill. But I look forward to that challenge.”






“Everything that I believe in as a coach — the fundamentals, the mentality, the attitude, the trust, the maturity… all those things – these guys embody. So I’m excited to work with them and help grow those traits.”


On linebacker Mike Hull: “I appreciate him already. He’s kind of square-jawed, no-nonsense. I actually tried to get him to crack a grin a little bit – it didn’t happen. He’s very serious. He’s a great student, he’s going to be the leader in that room, I feel, for sure. I’m thankful that he’s in place.”


On James Franklin: “He was a real competitor. The drive and determination that he demonstrates is something that you’ll come to recognize fully as the head coach of this program is how he ran the football team at East Stroudsburg… Coach Franklin has been a family friend for 20 years with my mother and with my father. There’s a real commitment to one another and a real fondness for each other. We’ve always pulled for him – whether it be for a job at Kutztown or whether it be the head coach at Penn State, we’ve always pulled for him and wanted the best for him. It just worked out when he want to Vanderbilt, he had opportunity for me to go with him.”






Tomorrow, some of the best of quotes from the offensive assistants.


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Author: Chris Adamski

Chris Adamski joined Trib Total Media's Steelers coverage team in 2014 after spending two seasons on the Penn State football beat for the Trib. Before that, he had worked in Pittsburgh sports media for more than a decade, extensively covering the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Pitt, Duquesne and the WPIAL.

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