Penn State Athletics
Penn State coach James Franklin is hoping to make his team a year-in, year-out Big Ten power.

Two glimpses of Penn State coach James Franklin, schedule includes tough stretch, and more

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This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Friday, May 26. Let’s get started.

Two views of James Franklin

Two profiles of James Franklin were published Thursday, each offering a different glimpse of Penn State’s football coach.

One was written by Barton Simmons of 247Sports, after an early-morning visit to the Lasch Building, the Nittany Lions’ football headquarters. In the story, Franklin underscores how he had to juggle his new-school approach with PSU’s old-school feel:

“Here it’s just a different animal [than Vanderbilt, his first head-coaching stop]. This is a place that’s the complete opposite in terms of history, in terms of tradition, in terms of facility, in terms of support. I’m not a guy that can ever not be me. I have to be me. I think to be honest with you, anybody that wants to be successful has to stay true to who they are.”

That’s evident in the other profile on Franklin appeared in Lancaster, Pa., at an event sponsored by Children Deserve a Chance, a foundation run by Jordan Steffy, who Franklin recruited when he was an assistant coach at Maryland in the early 2000s.

Steffy’s collegiate quarterbacking career did not work out because of injuries, but he earned his degree and two years ago was awarded an MBA from Columbia University. Now 31, he is thankful for how much Franklin helped him in his younger years:

“I think there’s a piece of data that says that 95 percent of people that feel their life has been positively impacted want to pay that forward. Coach Franklin was certainly somebody who was [involved] extremely early in my high school career.”

Franklin talks a lot about relationships, and understands that there are those who scoff at him when he does so. But he insists that he genuinely cares:

“I think a lot of coaches tell the families and tell the kids that we’re a family, and that I’m going to be there for him. I don’t know if that’s necessarily always the case. For me, I may not be this, I may not be that. But I’m a very, very loyal person, and if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it.”

He also wants to build his team into a perennial power, after a breakout season in 2016. As he told Simmons:

“What our fans and our administration think is, ‘OK, we’re here,’ Well, no, we still have a lot of heavy lifting to do, scratching and clawing to get to where we want to be consistently. We still have a long way to go and you look at the teams that we want to compete with, they’ve been doing these types of things consistently, winning at this level consistently, recruiting at this level consistently, and we haven’t.”

Running the gauntlet

Mike Poorman of notes that this season will mark the first in which the Lions play Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State on consecutive weekends since PSU joined the Big Ten in 1993.

He also writes that a sweep of  three East Division powers (which includes Penn State) is not as rare as might be expected. It has occurred 11 times in the past 24 seasons — most often by Ohio State, which has done it five times, and most recently by Michigan State in 2015. (The Spartans followed that up by losing to Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State in ’16.)

Since ’93, the Buckeyes are 45-22 in head-to-head competition against the three other schools. Michigan is 34-34, while Penn State has gone 29-36 and Michigan State is 24-40.

Lions gird for explosive Terps provides a preview of the NCAA women’s lacrosse semifinals on Friday, noting that Penn State (17-3) will be attempting to slow the nation’s most prolific attack when the Lions square off against top-ranked Maryland (21-0).

The Terps, who average 16.86 goals a game, are paced by Megan Whittle (66 goals, 14 assists), Zoe Stukenberg (50, 26), Kali Hartshorn (52, 11) and Caroline Steele (49, 12).

The Lions, led by Steph Lazo (45, 42), Madison Carter (69, 11) and Katie O’Donnell (61, 6), are potent themselves. The defense is backstopped by goalie Cat Rainone (10.3 goals-against average, .479 save percentage).

The winner of this semi advances to the championship game Sunday against the winner of the match between Navy (18-4) and Boston College (16-6).

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