Between the Lines of Franklin’s Article

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin reacts against the USC Trojans during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin reacts against the USC Trojans during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Just before the start of the 2017 season, James Franklin wrote an article for The Players Tribune. Here are some things that jumped out.

The Players Tribune published an article Thursday titled “Roaring Back”. The article was penned by Penn State head coach James Franklin.

Knowing the title and the author only, you probably figure you know what the story is about. Franklin focused on his time at Penn State thus far, his upbringing and early coaching career, and last season’

s Ohio State game.

The story gave Penn State fans plenty to chew on. Here are a few items that caught my eye.

  • The article dropped mere hours before the start of the Ohio State opens at Indiana game.

I am probably way off base here, but I hope I’m right. Franklin opens the article with the scene at Beaver Stadium before, during and after the blocked kick and subsequent touchdown which gave Penn State a victory over Ohio State last year.

Is it possible Franklins only intention for his piece was to remind Ohio State of a crushing loss right before they open the season against a Big Ten foe?

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That type of gamesmanship would make Jim Harbaugh look like Mother Teresa. It would be no easy task to get into the heads of a very talented Buckeye team, but reminding them about Marcus Allen’s block and Grant Haley’s return would have to stick in their craw a bit.

I’m sure the folks over at The Player’s Tribune dictate when they will publish, and Franklin may have written the story days or weeks ago. The timing could just be a coincidence. I sincerely hope if throwing shade at Ohio State wasn’t the motive, then it is a happy little accident which gets the Buckeyes replaying that game rather than focusing on Indiana.

  • This is a very clever recruiting tool.

James Franklin recruits as well as I concoct harebrained theories. That is no secret. This article made me, if I weren’t 28 and in worse shape than Artie Lange, want to throw on some shoulder pads and play for Franklin.

He writes how their was a lack of trust in the locker room when he arrived in Happy Valley, but that is no longer the case. He recounts stories illustrating how he puts all of his focus on his players well-being, and the tactics he uses to garner trust.

You may think Franklin wrote this article for all of Nittany Nation on the brink of the 2017 season, but there’s more to it. He knows the piece will be all over social media, and he knows recruits will read it. This is some great marketing by one hell of a salesman.

  • Speaking of trust…

Trust is a common thread running through the article. Trusting his players and gaining their trust in return. Trusting his coaches and trusting the results that will yield.

Franklin is introspective. He is aware he may not look or act like previous Penn State coaches. In fact, he doesn’t mention the name ‘Paterno’ once. That being said, he understands the tradition of Penn State football as well as anyone.

He closes the piece by writing “Today we still have that same pride and tradition, but the difference is that everyone knows exactly where we’re headed,” Franklin continues, “Right to the top.”

In the end, I think Franklin wants us to fully put our trust in him.

  • Bill O’Brien gets (some of) the credit he deserves.

I personally don’t feel Bill O’Brien gets the credit he deserves for his time in Happy Valley. He provided a sliver of light in the darkest of times. History will indeed be kind to Bill O’Brien, and when I say he should be regarded as a Penn State legend, I use no hyperbole.

Franklin talks about his conversations with O’Brien when he was interviewing for the vacancy. O’Brien didn’t BS him. The former coach explained the challenges, and warned Franklin that losing was not an option.

It is pleasing to see Franklin acknowledge O’Brien and the job he did in his two years in State College. If the team was placed in hands less capable than O’Brien’s, who knows where Penn State would be now?

  • The coach and the healer?

A title like “Roaring Back” is certainly on the nose. I will not recount the story everyone knows, neither did Franklin. Like he didn’t mention Paterno, he didn’t mention Sandusky either.

Franklin acknowledges the fanbase which has been through a lot, and says of Grant Haley’s touchdown, “It was like all this bundled up angst and emotion was released.”

Franklin will face criticism for saying Penn State fans have been through a lot. When there are victims of heinous acts perpetrated on that campus, words must be chosen wisely.

I’m unsure if Franklin believes that the Ohio State victory had any meaning outside of a tremendous win. If it were some sort of catharsis. Penn State will always be remembered for one thing, there is no amount of National Titles that Franklin can win to escape that.

I feel that more than anything, Franklin wants Penn State fans to know he understands them. He understands what this program was, is and can be.

Next: Analyzing the Depth Chart for the Akron Game

If his typed words didn’t instill that, perhaps you noticed the two words Franklin wrote next to his signature at the end of the article.

“We Are”.