We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Friday, Dec. 30. Let’s get started.
Examining Franklin’s roots
Aaron Kasinitz and Daniel Gallen of Pennlive.com offer up an ambitious profile of Penn State coach James Franklin, tracing his path from the Philadelphia suburb of Langhorne to his career as a quarterback at East Stroudsburg University and beyond.
He has been, they write, a guy who has always been eager to please, always quick to step to the fore. As one of his teammates at Neshaminy High School, Vince Sannelli, told the authors:
“He was kind of like the Mayor of Langhorne. Kind of hung out with everybody.”
He was also an accomplished enough high school quarterback that his coach, John Chaump, gave him the freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage. If a cornerback gave a receiver a cushion, Franklin could check to a hitch route. If the corner was hugging up, he could go with the fade.
Then Franklin did the latter late in a game Neshaminy led handily. Chaump, amused at the memory, recalled that it led to some dicey moments in the postgame handshake line:
“The other coach after the game was really mad at me: ‘What, are you trying to run up the score?’ James did it!”
Franklin went on to enjoy a big career at East Stroudsburg before getting into coaching. A college teammate, Ed Myers, remembered walking around Bourbon Street with Franklin when the coaching convention was in New Orleans in the mid-1990s. Franklin, an assistant at Kutztown at the time, said he was going to give the profession five years, then see where he stood.
As Myers related:
“He had a plan. James could fit everywhere, and he had a plan in place, and he worked his plan and here he is. His energy is the biggest thing. If you work 17 hours a day, you need it. He’s a workaholic, he’ll get things done.”
Remembering Barbour’s endorsement
Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune makes the argument that the vote of confidence given to Franklin by athletic director Sandy Barbour on Sept. 29 (not to mention another, a week later) might have been the season’s turning point.
It came days after a 49-10 loss at Michigan left the Lions at 2-2 and seemingly headed toward the same sort of so-so finish Franklin’s teams crafted in his first two seasons at PSU, when they went 7-6 in each campaign.
Or, perhaps, something worse.
But Barbour told the Altoona Mirror she believed in the program’s direction, that Franklin was doing “a spectacular job,” and that contrary to speculation at the time, he was “not on any hot seat.”
We know what happened next. The Lions rallied from a 13-3 halftime deficit to beat Minnesota in overtime, triggering the nine-game winning streak that included an upset of Ohio State, and propelled them to the Rose Bowl on Monday against USC.
In Franklin’s mind, there’s no question Barbour’s backing made a difference:
“Sandy Barbour stood up for us and, specifically, stood up for me, at a point where we needed her to. I can’t thank her enough (for) her leadership, her belief in us, and specifically, her belief in me.”
5-star CB Forbes woos Pitt commit Ford
If the Penn State-Pitt rivalry wasn’t hot enough, this should add to it: Recent PSU commit Lamont Wade, a 5-star cornerback from Clairton, Pa., told Scout.com national recruiting analyst Corey Bender that he is trying to get another western Pennsylvania defensive back, Steel Valley’s Paris Ford, to decommit … from the Panthers.
As Wade told Bender at the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla.:
“I am staying in Paris’ ear. Hopefully, he’ll flip.”
According to Scout.com, Ford committed to Pitt more than 14 months ago. Wade declared for the Nittany Lions on Dec. 17 and will enroll in school on Jan. 6.
Also in the Land of 10
Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead denies head-coaching rumors, says he’s “very entrenched” at Penn State.
Michigan wide receiver Grant Perry denies all allegations of criminal sexual conduct.
Michigan State defensive back Montae Nicholson declares for the NFL Draft.