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James Franklin Addresses New Representation and His 'Commitment' to Penn State

'I think I've shown over my eight years my commitment to this university and this community,' Franklin says.

Penn State coach James Franklin confirmed Tuesday that he has changed agents and addressed once again whether he's committed to coaching the team next season.

"I’ve been asked this question multiple times, and my focus is completely on Illinois and this team and this program," Franklin said during his weekly press conference. "I think I’ve shown over my eight years my commitment to this university and this community, and that’s kind of my statement."

As Penn State prepares to visit No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday night, Franklin again faced questions about his future with the program. Though he sought to train his focus on Ohio State, Franklin inadvertently referred to "Illinois" three times instead of the Buckeyes. Penn State fell to Illinois 20-18 in nine overtimes last Saturday.

He also referred to Penn State as facing a "tremendous challenge going on the road to the Big House," a slip when he meant the Horseshoe. Ohio State hosts the Lions at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on ABC.

Franklin did confirm reporting that he has changed representation, joining Jimmy Sexton's roster of clients at CAA.  But Franklin added that he made the decision this past summer, though it first was reported publicly this week.

"I'm glad you asked. First of all, as you know, my response is, we're completely focused on our season and our team and finding a way to beat Ohio State and be 1-0 this week," Franklin said. "I'm not going to get into the details. But what I will tell you is, this is being reported now, but this is something that happened over the summer. Obviously, I didn't make an announcement. I don't know anybody that ever does when that happens. But this is something that happened over the summer that's just being reported now."

In addition, Franklin, who signed a new six-year deal with Penn State in 2020, once again said that being named as a candidate for the jobs at USC and LSU has not been a distraction within the program.

"It has not been a discussion or an issue that I've heard from the staff, or I’ve heard from the players," Franklin said. "I’ve met with the [players'] Leadership Council. We’ve kept it very direct, and obviously there’s things that we have discussions [about] in great detail in our building with our families and our players and the staff. So we try to do that the best we possibly can.

"I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that over my eight years here and we’ll continue to try to do that. There’s things that we can control and there’s things that we can’t from the outside, but this has been kind of a story that’s happened on numerous occasions. And we just try to keep it as focused as we possibly can."

Franklin arrived at Penn State in 2014, when the university had an interim president and an interim athletic director. Penn State is in the process of hiring a new president to replace Eric Barron, who is retiring in June. Franklin recently served on a university working group charged with helping Penn State identify its next president.

Meanwhile, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour's contract runs through August 2023. Franklin said he has "faith" in university leadership.

"We’re trying to be focused on Illinois and talking about Illinois as much as we possibly can," Franklin said. "... There’s been a lot of unusual situations. The timing of when I came to Penn State, I took the job here not knowing who the president nor the AD was going to be. They were both interim at the time, which is very unusual. And then obviously, when you have a president who is retiring like Eric, …. Eric’s done an unbelievable job. We all came in at a challenging time in Penn State's history and worked very well together and battled together, but obviously you want to have an idea of what the future is going to hold.

"I’ve got tremendous faith in our board and [Penn State Board of Trustees chair] Matt Schuyler that we’re going to get somebody great, but Eric’s going to be difficult to replace. So there’s a lot of moving parts, but I’ve got tremendous faith in our leadership on the board, I’ve got tremendous faith in our leadership that’s currently on campus now."

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