Blue White Illustrated

March 2024

Penn State Sports Magazine

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1 8 M A R C H 2 0 2 4 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M / / / / / / / T H E C L A S S O F 2 0 2 4 / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / O f the 29 seasons in which he has coached football for a living, James Franklin has spent just one in the NFL. In 2005, Franklin oversaw the Green Bay Packers' wide receivers. He helped Donald Driver amass more than 1,200 receiving yards, but the Packers lost 12 games that year, and the staff was fired in January. Franklin landed at Kansas State, returning to the college ranks where he had gotten his start. He's been there ever since. Rightly or wrongly, Franklin has long been perceived as a "college guy," one of those coaches whose superpower is his ability to connect with teenagers and their parents. Being a college guy, it was not surprising when he was asked at a recent press conference about the state of his chosen profession. In the previ- ous two months, Nick Saban had re- tired from Alabama, Jim Harbaugh had stepped down at Michigan to become head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Chip Kelly had left his head coach- ing post at UCLA to become offensive coordinator at Ohio State. It was easy to read into those moves a growing disenchantment with the talent- acquisition part of the job. After decades of near-total control over player move- ment, coaches in the past few years have been thrust into a world with virtually unlimited free agency, no salary cap and minimal oversight from any sort of gov- erning body. Some observers have por- trayed those moves as a long-overdue re- balancing of interests, with players finally gaining the upper hand over coaches. But have players actually benefited from their newfound autonomy? Franklin isn't so sure. "It's not headed in a good direction re- ally for anybody," he said. "I don't think it's the right thing for players. … I think when coaches went too far and were lim- iting where players could transfer to, they were abusing that [privilege]. But we went from one extreme to the other. You can't tell me that it's good for the student-ath- letes to transfer three, four times. Every time you transfer, the likelihood of gradu- ating goes down. I don't think that's in anybody's best interests. Brave New Brave New World World Penn State navigates an ever-shifting landscape to sign the 16th-ranked recruiting class of the 2024 cycle MATT HERB | M AT T. H E R B @ O N 3 . C O M Ohio quarterback Ethan Grunkemeyer saw his rating skyrocket last summer, but amid the surge in interest, he held firm to his verbal commitment to the Nittany Lions. PHOTO COURTESY ETHAN GRUNKEMEYER

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