The modern realities of the news holes in print mean, often, some interesting things are left out. But that’s why God invented blogs, no? Here are some unused quotes vis-à-vis Franklin and his people-want-to-get-on-board-with-him personality…
I asked Franklin about why he feels the need to put pressure on himself and the program with bold calls to sell out “every single game” and #107kStrong hashtags and the like:
“I think that’s more than that nowadays it’s more than just winning football games, it’s the whole package. And for us to continue to win, there’s a revenue aspect to this as well. We’ve got to generate revenue, we’ve got to win football games, most importantly we’ve got to graduate our players and make sure they have a great experience here. But I’m a football coach that, I feel like you better have an understanding and you better have a grasp of the complete picture. I don’t see it as… I just see it as part of the job. We’ve got to graduate our players, we’ve got to win football games, we’ve got to sell the stadium out. Selling the stadium out is good for a number of reasons – great for recruiting… we bring in recruits and it’s one of the best atmospheres in the country. It’s going to help us continue to build the program because we’re bringing in revenue and as you know, we have some challenges and issues right now that we’re going to have to overcome and that’s all part of it.”
Tim Corbin, the baseball coach at Vanderbilt who led the Commodores to the College World Series title in June, developed a close friendship with Franklin while he was at Vandy. Corbin had plenty to say about how Franklin reinvigorated not only a woebegone football program but an entire athletic department and university community:
“(Franklin) was tapping into every resource he sees as necessary in order to move forward. He was continually thinking –his mind never stops. And he was just a person that asked a lot of questions about the recruiting part of it here at Vanderbilt, the kids, how everything was set up.”
“There’s nothing he’s saying that he won’t stand by. He is THAT guy. He is 100 percent committed to the developing every ounce of ability that that program has. I can’t speak to Penn State; I’m on onlooker when it comes to (Joe) Patreno and (Bill) O’Brien, but what I think he has – now, Joe was obviously there a long period of time – but what this guy has is attitude, presence, and an energy level that is very, very high. And you just can get him down – he just undeniably comes back all the time. He’s that fighter who is going to be with you. You think you’ve got him down and the next thing you know he’s back up again throwing punches and that’s why his kids are so resilient is because he’s so damn resilient.”
Longtime East Stroudsburg coach Dennis Douds – Franklin’s coach when he played quarterback in college – told me what everyone already knows. Franklin is a people person, and that shows in recruiting:
“He’s able to not only get players interested in Penn State, to come there and play, but the kids that are there now to play and get the whole Penn State Nation excited about supporting that program.”
I talked to sports marketing guru Joe Favorito, a professor at Columbia University. He said he has followed Franklin’s career closely. I asked him how much a head coach is or can be identified as the “brand” of a team, athletic program or university:
“There’s plenty of examples, absolutely: Cal (John Cailpari at Kentucky basketball), Pitino (Rick Pitino at Louisville basketball). I think people go to see then, especially now in a day and age where student athletes are so transient and can be there one year and gone another. The best you have as a face of a program – and Penn State obviously had this for many years – is an imposing figure as coach. James Franklin aspires to be that. Obviously, there’s a lot of factors that go into that. You want someone to communicate and send out your message, and everyone knows this is his program, he’s the CEO.
“I honestly think in the world we live in that you have to be of a certain mindset thinking about what makes your program or your business successful.
I asked senior co-captain Miles Dieffenbach if players are compelled to join in with Franklin in promoting the program:
“As a senior, we have a lot to do around the community with community service and interacting with the community, and it’s definitely something you love going out into that sold-out stadium, so working with that coaching staff and the media trying to get fans in and incorporate the team and fans together and really make them part of the team – which they are, our fan base is truly unbelievable. And we want to get that stadium sold out, so I think it’s definitely something we can help with as well.”