Franklin sees value in world knowledge

UNIVERSITY PARK — Football is not the be all, end all in life, and James Franklin made it clear Tuesday afternoon that he wants to make sure his players have a well-rounded understanding of what’s going on in the world.

Around that same time, 600 miles away, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp brought national scorn upon himself with an answer he gave to a similar question, making it seem like football is the only thing he cares about.

With midterm elections being held, Franklin was asked how he views his role as a leader of young men when it comes to discussing things with them such as civic duty, political issues and the importance of voting.

Franklin gave a lengthy answer on the subject.

“I think it’s really important,” he began. “I think a lot of times as coaches, and as football coaches especially, during a season, you kind of go into the submarine, and a lot of times you don’t know what’s going on in the world. You don’t see sunlight. You get in early in the morning, and you don’t leave until late at night, so that can be challenging.”

But, he continued, coaches need to find a way to make time for important issues.

“One thing I think we’ve done a good job as coaches, but more so in the last year, we’ve hired some off-field positions that are dealing with these things, and they are dealing with them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — whether it’s internships, whether it’s job fairs, whether it’s voting, whether it’s all these types of things,” Franklin said. “I think one of the things that’s really good is making the (voting) process as easy as possible for our guys so that a large percentage would go and do it. So, making sure our guys knew what all the options were on campus, off campus, things like that. I think it’s really critical.”

Franklin then told a story about something he heard Washington coach Chris Petersen said to his players on the matter.

“They were having a discussion about everybody talking about political issues and arguments and heated debates and things like that,” Franklin said. “(Petersen) asked for guys to raise their hand who voted, and very few had voted. And (he) said, ‘Well, how can you have a real strong opinion if you’re not involved in the process?'”

Down in Columbia, S.C., meanwhile, Muschamp was asked if he had talked to his players about voting.

The coach said nothing. He braced his lips together with a smirk, slightly shook his head no, and still said nothing. The reporter followed up by asking, “You know there’s an election today?”

Muschamp replied, “I do now. I’m getting ready for Florida (this week’s opponent).”

The questions may have seemed political in nature, but they were really about whether the coaches felt it was important enough to have real-world issues discussions with their players.

Franklin and Muschamp both have spoken in the past about being leaders and molders of young men, but only one of them gave an answer Tuesday that indicated he cares about things other than football.

“I think all these things are important in college athletics — that we are all working together for our campus and we are all working together for our communities, but also for society,” Franklin said. “That’s what we’re supposed to be doing in athletics, and that’s what we’re supposed to be doing specifically in college athletics and on college campuses.”

Franklin was asked later if he in fact had voted Tuesday. He said he had planned to early in the morning, but something came up in his schedule. The Mirror sent a message later in the day inquiring if Franklin had voted, but a spokesperson wasn’t sure if he had or not.

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Following the worst loss in two years, a 42-7 drubbing at Michigan that dropped Penn State to 6-3, the first question asked of Franklin on Tuesday was if the team or coaches have performed up to their standards this season.

“No,” Franklin quickly replied. “Obviously our standards and our expectation is to win every game we play. So we have not done that for a number of reasons. … We will not be satisfied until we’re in that situation. But yeah we have very, very high standards and expectations of who and what we want to be.”

Most of the current PSU players haven’t been in a situation where they’re coming off a blowout loss. The Lions’ previous five losses were by a combined 12 points.

So, how are they handling things?

“Saturday was a tough one for all of us to swallow,” Franklin said, before defending the program for being in every game the past two years.

“We’ve got work to do, there’s no doubt about it,” he later added. “And there’s nobody in the building right now that is comfortable with where we’re at. That’s coaches, that’s players and that’s everybody.”

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