James Franklin’s roots in Pittsburgh trace to his childhood. Thursday, he’ll be making one of his first public appearances in the city since being hired as Penn State’s head coach in January.
Franklin will be at the Sheraton Station Square for the local stop on the Penn State Coaches Caravan tour. Franklin will join assistants (and Western PA natives) Terry Smith and Bob Shoop, along with women’s soccer head coach Erica Walsh and men’s soccer head coach Bob Warming for the Pittsburgh stop, the seventh of 17 by Franklin and other coaches over a 22-day span.
Earlier Thursday, Franklin & Co. will make their only other Western Pennsylvania stop, in Uniontown, at the Community Center Building’s main arena on the Penn State Fayette campus. You can register to attend either event (or any of the other eight across the state and region that haven’t sold out yet) here. Registration is $40 for members and $55 for non-members, and if space allows tickets will be available at the door for each for an additional $10.
The caravan stops outside of Pennsylvania (most every corner of the state is covered) are Washington D.C. and Baltimore on Wednesday and in New York City and northern New Jersey on May 15. The closest the caravan will be to Pittsburgh other than Thursday is Erie – a sold-out stop May 22. The caravan began this past Thursday in State College.
Like most everything involving Franklin, there was no shortage of pomp and spectacle associated with that initial caravan stop. Say what you want about Franklin, he is a skilled public speaker who is comfortable and personable in interacting with fans, alumni, students and public at large.
This is the third public appearance for Franklin in Pittsburgh since being named the Nittany Lions’ head coach in January. Within a week, he spoke briefly at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association’s Johnny Majors Night – and connected with an audience that, for obvious reasons, was largely pro-Pitt. Franklin also spoke at the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic in Green Tree in February.
Smith was a standout player for Gateway who was a receiver at Penn State and later coached Gateway. He was hired as cornerbacks coach and defensive recruiting coordinator by Franklin. Shoop, who is from Oakmont, is Penn State’s defensive coordinator and safeties coach.
The reception at the Sheraton Station Square begins at 6 p.m. Thursday with the program to follow at 7 p.m. Franklin will be available to the media prior to the event.