Editor’s note: This story is part of Onward State’s April Fools’ Day series. It is satirical, meant for entertainment, and not to be taken literally. Any quotes were made up for the purpose of this post.
By Ryan Parsons & Will Pegler
Remember when James Franklin offered to have a couple of “beers in the basement” with select media members this fall? We do.
After our polite follow-up on the invitation, Onward State was among those granted exclusive access to Franklin’s man cave for a couple of beers and a chat about all things Penn State football. The head coach slyly dished out the request for us to join him ahead of
The Outback Bowl The Tampa Bay Bowl, and after a few months of nervous anticipation, we finally sat down over a couple of cold ones.
Anyway, we managed to have fun with our good friend, but we also knew we needed to fulfill our role as student journalists. Here’s everything we talked about with the coach — on and “off” the record.
On The Illinois Loss
Although Franklin wasn’t completely sure of this, he suggested that Sean Clifford was actually ~under the weather~ during this game. When the head coach implied after the game that his QB1 wasn’t at full strength against the Fighting Illini, he wasn’t technically lying.
To keep things even, we may or may not have been hungover in the press box as well.
Franklin also curiously threw Eric Barron under the bus since he knew the president would be out of Happy Valley come summer 2022. Honestly such a savvy move.
“They came out with that jumbo formation on the offensive line, and honestly, we had no idea what to do,” Franklin said. “I looked at Brent [Pry], and he looked just as confused as I did, so I called up to Eric Barron in the presidential suite and he made it clear we shouldn’t change up our defensive scheme…Blame him. Sorry.”
On His ‘1-0’ Mentality
Penn State fans, stop bothering Franklin about this one, because it actually is a farce. The Nittany Lions have an interesting habit of letting losses snowball under Franklin, which has called the head coach’s “treat every opponent the same” mantra into question.
It seems like this is a trope for a reason, as Franklin admitted that the team didn’t even watch tape on Villanova this year. He couldn’t even remember the name of the Wildcats’ head coach.
On Offensive Line Struggles
We all know James’ company line about taking responsibility for all of the coaching staff’s issues, but he took a bit of a different tune when relaxing with us in the man cave.
The Nittany Lions finished the season averaging the second-worst rushing yards per game in the Big Ten, and much of that blame fell on Phil Trautwein’s offensive line.
“Yeah, you know, I’m well aware that the offensive line was bad this year,” Franklin said. “Add it to the list of things I get blamed for that aren’t my fault. I don’t like Phil. Right after he moved to State College, he showed up to my house with a box of chocolates. Chocolate? You think I can eat that? I run on Waffle House espressos and Orbit gum, pal.”
On His New Contract
As we enjoyed beverages in his luxurious man cave, we’d be idiots not to ask him about his new massive 10-year deal as Penn State’s head coach. James had plenty to say to the critics of his contract.
“Everyone can stop complaining, I’ll tell you that much,” Franklin said. “What? I can’t have 55 hours on a private jet? How else am I gonna get to Virginia for recruiting trips?”
In Franklin’s defense, we can personally attest to how bad Virginia traffic is. You win this one, James.
On ‘Deez Nuts’ Jokes
This was kinda weird. At one point in the evening, Franklin asked The Athletic reporter Audrey Snyder if she’s ever tried the “Deez IPA.”
Poor Audrey responded by saying, “No, what’s Deez?”, and Franklin immediately screamed at the top of his lungs, “DEEZ FUCKING NUTS! GOT ‘EM.”
On His Favorite Beer
We tried to press Franklin about this, but he “didn’t want to get into it.” It seemed pretty similar to his response to coaching carousel rumors, which was odd for an off-the-record meeting.
He did drink like three glasses of milk over the course of the evening while we drank Hazy Little Thing IPAs, however. Do with that what you will.
Well, that was honestly an unbelievable experience. If we weren’t kicked out by James’ wife at 9 p.m., we would’ve hung out for hours.
Covering Penn State football going forward, we now both have a newfound trust with Penn State’s head man. After a few glasses of milk, James clearly loosens up and is much more willing to share his perspective.
James, all we can say is thank you. The next drink is on us!