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June 15, 2017

James Franklin

University Park, Pennsylvania

COACH FRANKLIN: Obviously, the cat is out of the bag now. And you all know what this mysterious midsummer press conference was about. Appreciate everybody being here. We're excited.

This is something, to be honest with you, we've been talking about, me and Spider started conversations about, from the day I arrived, about a way to kind of honor our history and our traditions and do something fun and a little bit different.

And Nike got involved and helped us out. And I think it's something that does two things: It really shows and reinforces all the tremendous history and tradition that we have here, and our uniform is -- as iconic as it is and how it has not changed much over time, there has been some subtle things and we can honor those things and kind of tell this unbelievable story that we have here at Penn State of our history, and what better way to do it with this uniform.

And then the other thing it does is our players are really excited about it. It's subtle, but it's something that they're really excited about as well.

They went crazy this morning. We had a team meeting this morning at 7:45 to talk to them about it. And they went berserk, absolutely berserk. They went crazy.

So it's going to be fun. I think everybody is going to get really excited about it. And it's another gain, door in our season, that we can do something whether we're honoring our military or whether we're honoring our history and traditions or whether it's homecoming, whatever it may be, it's fun and unique and we're excited about the opportunity to do it.

Q. Is this something that you're planning on trying to do every year or is this sort of dipping your toe in the water to see what reaction you're getting? Have you thought that far out about it?
COACH FRANKLIN: If you're talking about dipping our toe in terms of like doing like more, like --

Q. In terms of reactions, how the fans will react (indiscernible)?
COACH FRANKLIN: Again, I think everything that we've done in our history kind of is here. This crazy gray face mask that we went with, that's in our history, it's in our tradition. And that's what we've done.

We're not really looking -- we don't really need to go other places. Again, this is a way to focus on all the unbelievable different time periods, generations of greatness that we have in our history. And that's what it's about.

Now, I probably don't want to talk any further about the future. I just want to talk about now. Could we do a game like this every year? I don't know, we haven't really discussed it.

But it is something that's exciting this year. I do know this -- it's funny because I think I mentioned to you guys before, people talk about us wearing the pink and black uniforms and stuff like that, like we can just do it overnight.

This uniform, it's not like you can get it done in six months. Nike has been working on this for a while for us to get it done. So I also know we invested a lot of money into it, and it would make sense maybe to use it one time a year or something like that. But we'll see. I'm not completely sure what the future holds.

Q. Did Nike -- I mean Nike with other schools has asked them to go more nuts with their uniforms. Have they tried to get you guys to go farther and make more radical departure from your traditional thing?
COACH FRANKLIN: Again, we're concerned about Penn State, not other schools. And with the history and traditions that we have, we don't have to reinvent ourselves. We can accent all the positive and wonderful things that we have here at Penn State.

So it never really went that route. This really started out, to be honest with you, as kind of a single time period. One uniform-specific and then we said, well, that's really cool. Well, there's other elements that we can still kind of pay homage to and talk about the gray -- you guys saw the poster and you saw the video, I think, saw the gray face mask. There's been certain times we've done that.

The number on the helmet, there's been different times we've done that. So we started out just in one kind of a small time period, and then we said we actually have a number of years that we could use that really tell our history in a very unique and specific way to Penn State.

And I think the great part about this is anybody that turns the TV on to watch us play, there's not going to be one person that's like trying to figure out who it is. It's our uniform. And it is iconic. And we've just taken some elements that we've had in our history and brought them back.

And we didn't do it in a throw-back type of way where it's like the NFL and some people do where it's an old uniform. It's elements from our past, but done in a current way.

Q. Recruiting-wise, how does this help? Obviously you see a lot of programs use different uniforms. You've mentioned you guys are only worried about Penn State, but how can it help you from that perspective, especially at a time like this where there's not a whole lot going on in the college football world? And recruiting-wise you hear people talking about this here uniforms and so on and so forth.
COACH FRANKLIN: I think whenever there's a buzz and excitement about anything -- when we put out our grades, creates a buzz with our own parents as well as parents of the prospects we're recruiting.

When you win a Big Ten Championship, that creates a buzz. When you retain your staff, that creates a buzz. Whenever there's positive things going on in a program and a program as big as this with the type of following and support that we have, yeah, there's an impact of it.

I don't think there's any doubt about it. But for us, number one, it's about our current players and the development of our current players and the morale of our team and the chemistry of our team. And it's more about that. But, yeah, there's no doubt that there's other impacts.

Q. If you were a top fashion designer, personally speaking, what would have been, like, your favorite element that got included in this? And which one would you say as a player I wouldn't be caught dead wearing that?
COACH FRANKLIN: I don't know if you've seen me. I'm not saying I'm a big fashion guy. You know, the thing that's great about being in a place like Penn State and having an opportunity to work with the people that we work with, like Nike, the best in the business, we're able to say, look, this is some of our ideas, this is some of our thoughts, and then hand that over to the best people in the world, the Nike designers and the Nike people, to run with it, and then come back with some things and go back and forth. So for me it was just more about a vision and kind of a concept and allow Nike to do what they do better than anybody.

So, I like a lot of the aspects, to be honest with you. The gray face mask I wasn't sure about, but then when you see it, I think it looks really sharp. I think the numbers on the helmet are great.

That's probably something that we've done more recently. So I think a lot of people kind of remember that. The stripe on the pants -- the thing I will tell you, guys, when me and Spider first talked about this three years ago, all these things were downstairs. So like when I asked Spider, he brought up the helmet with the gray face mask. He already had it.

The numbers on the helmet, he already had it. The striped pants were downstairs. Brand new. Bought. So these things were there.

The thing that he was able to close the gap on was the white shoes. So we've had all these things in our history and then we were able to get video of all these things that helped as well.

So to be honest with you, this was a concept that started with us within the football program. And then it went to Spider and seeing what he thought and the Nike people. The Nike people, they're the ones that kind of made the dream become a reality.

Q. Going back to that early morning meeting today, was there one player's reaction, as you were telling them, was there anybody who stood out to you like wow that guy really is --
COACH FRANKLIN: It's the guys you would expect. Josh McPhearson is kind of a -- he's kind of a spiritual leader on our team in a lot of ways. Guys love him. He's the one in the uniform, the video you saw.

Saquon is an excitable guy. He's jumped up. We'll put videos out. You'll see the reaction of the guys. And then you get the other reaction that you expect, all the offensive linemen -- all the offensive linemen were sitting over on the side. And when they cheered is at the end of the meeting when we said, by the way, for getting up at 7:30 in the morning and coming over for this meeting we have breakfast and a nutrition bar and they went crazy.

I think probably for certain positions and certain kids it's probably something that's more important. I think we all know Marcus Allen and fashion is something that's important to him. So he was going crazy.

Then when it was all over they were all looking close at Josh and looking down at the shoes. I think probably the shoes are the thing, probably the biggest impact on our players, that that was the thing that they were probably the most excited about.

Q. Could you outline the rest of the summer in terms of scheduling with where the kids are at? And are the staff allowed to monitor the workouts or what does the summer shake out?
COACH FRANKLIN: Do you want me to talk about Niagara Falls, is that why you brought that up?

Q. If you want to talk about Niagara Falls, you can.
COACH FRANKLIN: He had to get that, didn't he? He had to get that jab in there.

You know, it's changed. We were able to have contact with the players now because we do have mandatory hours in the summer, which we didn't have before, which allows us to do a lot of different things.

So, yeah, there is that. But the coaches are also, they're trying to manage taking care of all the players on campus developing them which is first and foremost. We're also running all over the country doing camps, as well as the camps we have on our own campus. We have a new mandatory dead period that's put in by the NCAA, which I think is a positive. It allows coaches to get away and go on vacation with their families a little bit and recruits can't come to campus. So that's helpful.

So it's kind of a combination of all those things. But it's going to be here before we know it for all of us. So I advise you guys just as much as my staff to take a little bit of time, because here pretty soon we're going to be seeing a lot of each other.

And it's going to be exciting. I think it's a season that we're all kind of looking forward to and excited about for a number of different reasons.

But, yeah, the summers are running in a thousand different directions. And we still have a lot of those aspects still to complete -- camps, recruiting, cleaning up the last elements of the play book, cleaning up the last elements of all of our install tapes.

Then the other thing is our game plans. We've already done game plans for our first four opponents, have those things done. And as you guys know we always go on a staff retreat and we break that up around the state.

So I think the first year we went to Philadelphia, then Pittsburgh the next year. And then Harrisburg last year, I think is what it was. And this year we go to Scranton. So we take a different part of the state every year and go there and talk philosophy and go through things in detail.

There's a lot of bonding stuff that we do there as well -- staff bonding and chemistry and organizational structure-type stuff. And then camp gets going. Because the other thing, I think you guys are aware of, the model has changed with camp. There's no more two-a-days, so instead of two-a-days we're actually coming to camp a few days earlier now. So that kind of eats up some of your time for those things as well. So you need to make sure you're prepared on the front end.

Q. You said you invested a lot of money. Care to ballpark that?
COACH FRANKLIN: It's like $1,500. To be honest, I don't know. Nike obviously gets involved in that, and it's the same price as our normal uniform. We get new uniforms pretty much every year. So it's not a big budget number for us, between Nike and our administration supporting us with it. But I don't have the number.

Q. Secondarily, why was it important to invest in something like that?
COACH FRANKLIN: I guess what I said before is to pay homage to our history and traditions and do something fun and exciting that really takes -- like generations of greatness. We're taking all the different moments in time throughout our history and being able to tell a story. What better way to tell a story than with our uniform.

And since our uniform has only had subtle changes over the last 100-something years, it's a pretty cool way to do it, where we're not going outside of who we are, but we're able to accent and talk about these different things.

To be honest with you, we have players and recruits that have no idea about this. So you're also educating your fans and you're also educating your players about it.

And like I said, Spider was a big part of that. Obviously getting Terry's input on this and Justin King's input on this, and guys like that, there's a lot of value. So this is something that we just thought made sense to really honor our history. And we just felt what a better way to do it than with the uniform.

Q. What are the material differences of starting a week early, knowing that there's classes? And how many two-a-days did you really do at this point?
COACH FRANKLIN: It's funny that you say that, because the two-a-day thing, most rules that we have in the NCAA book, as well as probably anywhere else in state government and national government, you put the rules in place for maybe five percent of people abusing it in the first place.

Almost everywhere I've worked the old two-a-day model has been gone for a long time. You may have a second practice but it's a modified practice.

I know when I was at East Stroudsburg, and you don't tell players this because -- it's like you are telling your kids that you walked to school both ways through the snow uphill, but literally we did three-a-days my entire time in college.

We did a practice at 8:00 in the morning in the Poconos where there was still dew on the ground and you'd sit down to stretch and right away your pants would get wet. You'd come back to practice after lunch and your uniform had not dried from the first practice and that was always an issue.

And at night, every night, we did special teams practice. And we did that three-a-days the entire camp, no days off, full pads, the whole deal.

Now, that may have been illegal back then. I don't know. But we did it. So everywhere I've worked for the last 23 years, that model has gone away.

So most people were doing this model anyway, but the second practice may have been a jog-through, may have been a lighter practice, whatever it may be.

So for most people, I'd say the majority of programs out there, it's not a major change. But the biggest difference is you still needed to have 29 practice opportunities. And if you were going to take the two-a-days away, then obviously the only other way to do it is to extend practice, extend the calendar.

And then the other issue is there's a mandatory day off now. We always had days off in our camp anyway, from my time at Vanderbilt and my time here at Penn State. So that's not really a new element for us. But being able to have the 29 practice opportunities change -- talking to most of the coaches that I know, there's a few that aren't changing their model at all in terms of the number of days that they're coming into camp.

There's some that have taken a kind of compromise between the two. And then there's some that are using the entire calendar. Most are kind of falling in between. They're not extending it as far as they could. They're not leaving as it was and they're finding a middle ground, which is what we did. And I think most people are doing. So I get it.

But I don't know if this was necessarily something that was really broke anyway. I think there's probably some other ways that we could have modified it like making a second practice a non-contact practice, which is really what I think this came from, it came from contact and it was a rest and recovery component, too.

So I think there was a way of doing it because the other issue you have is we're talking about the length of season and time demands on the athletes anyway. So it doesn't really make sense to add another week to the season. If we're talking about time demands. So but I do get why we're doing it and how it came about.

Q. Are you having two big signing day celebrations now?
COACH FRANKLIN: I think I've said this before. Haven't answered that specific question, but I actually think that the signing day will become the first signing day. I think 90 percent or 80 percent of prospects across the country will sign on the first signing day. So I think that will become the signing day. Then the next one will kind of finish the class off.

So, no, we would not have two signing day celebrations.

I could even see a situation where we don't have a signing day celebration. I could see that maybe going away because you don't have that one moment in time that really is -- it de-emphasizes it, I guess is what I would say, when you have two and not one kind of closure to it all.

So, yeah, we will not have two for sure. We could have one, but I also could see a component of that going away at a lot of places around the country.

Q. Can you take us through what you do with those guys to get them ready as far as once parents drop them off until Coach Galt gets them?
COACH FRANKLIN: You know, again, I think back to my playing days. I remember my mom and my sister dropping me off -- and you dropped off and the next day you were in practice. I mean, full-go, three-a-days, going -- where now with the NCAA you have an acclimation period.

I think one of the best things they did was allowing us to bring them up early for summer school. Because football you have to adjust academically, athletically and socially all at once. So, allowing them to come up and take a couple of classes in the summer and experience what a college class is like before getting a full load of 15 credits, as well as football full time, as well as adjusting socially, it allows them to get used to the training, ease them in from that standpoint. It allows you to take a couple of classes and experience what a college class is like and what to expect before taking a full load.

And it allows them to -- I think they're very close with their signing class, but allows them to develop relationships. We assign them all big brothers so they have either a junior or senior typically at their position that can kind of take them under their wing to help in that transition.

The parents come up. In a lot of ways that's still the same. They drop them off. But, yeah, it's a time to kind of help them get acclimated academically, athletically, socially, the whole package. And I think it's been probably one of the more positive things in college football. And I also think it's had a dramatic impact on graduation rates.

Because the football players are able to take -- in a lot of sports -- are able to take credits every summer to get you further ahead to graduation. That's why we have so many guys that are graduating in three and a half years.


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