Blue White Illustrated

January 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 34 of 67

J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 2 3 5 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M J ames Franklin could talk all day about facilities. Locker rooms, weight rooms, indoor practice spaces, coaches' offices, players' lounges, nutrition bars — name a foot- ball amenity, and the eighth-year Penn State coach has either campaigned for one or has campaigned to have the ex- isting one upgraded, and there's no in- dication that he's satisfied with the im- provements that have already been made on his watch. If anything, his interest in this subject has only intensified over the years. To Franklin, every week is Infra- structure Week. During the many weeks this past fall in which the coach's future was the main topic of conversation among followers of Penn State's football program, the status of the team's facilities was viewed as one of the key factors that would determine whether he stayed. There was specula- tion that he was using the uncertainty as leverage to secure commitments from the administration to fund future projects. On Nov. 23, the uncertainty about his future ended with the announcement that Franklin had agreed to a 10-year contract extension. There was no men- tion of any new facilities projects that would complement the $48.3 million makeover of the Lasch Building that is already underway. But the day before his new pact was announced, Franklin made it clear that he felt the Lions urgently needed to keep pace. "I've said it really since I got here, we have to compete 365 days a year with ev- erything," he said. "Everything matters. … It's pretty easy on social media to track [recruits] and where they're going, what they're doing, what they see. There are universities all over the country putting out information [about their facilities]. "I'm always studying best practices," Franklin continued. "It just really comes down to competing in every single thing, 365 days a year. That's what makes foot- ball so exciting and why it's so competi- tive. It's because everything matters." The conversation about facilities has gotten more challenging lately. Head- ing into their Outback Bowl matchup against Arkansas on Jan. 1, the Nittany Lions were sporting an 11-10 record over the past two seasons. In the context of the team's recent on-field struggles, any talk of insufficient support can't help but sound like an exercise in deflection. After a regular season in which PSU lost five of its last seven games, fans are in no mood to hear anything that sounds like an excuse. But whether anyone wants to hear it or not, other schools across the country are sparing no expense in a bid to make James Franklin sees facilities as a key factor in Penn State's competitive outlook M AT T H E R B | M AT T @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M BUILDING BUILDING A CASE A CASE Holuba Hall has been in use at Penn State since 1986 and is part of a football complex that Franklin has sought to upgrade during his tenure at the school. PHOTO BY NATE BAUER

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