Penn State coach James Franklin said that his new 10-year contract could have been completed sooner, but the process didn't affect his relationship with current players or recruits.
"We probably could have tied things up a lot sooner, but it's just kind of the way the process played itself out," Franklin said Sunday night. "... We did the best we could under the circumstances."
Penn State on Nov. 23 announced Franklin's new 10-year contract that is worth a guaranteed $70 million. With annual retention bonuses and a life-insurance loan, the contract's total value reaches $85 million.
Franklin's contract took more than nine weeks to complete, during which time the coach was mentioned as a candidate for the coaching positions at USC and LSU. All along, Franklin said he kept his players and recruits informed of the process and told both groups that he was staying about a week before the contract was announced.
As a result, recruits weren't surprised by the announcement but felt better when it became official. Signing a 10-year contract will require Franklin to conduct fewer such conversations for at least four years.
"The recruits, I think there is a sense of relief," Franklin said during a media call to discuss the Outback Bowl. "But like I said, they were all informed the whole way. But obviously, when you're seeing things in the media, and when you also see so many other places — and so many coaches say that they're not doing anything, and then they do — obviously, it gives you pause. So I understand that.
"So as much as I'm talking to these families and these kids and explaining to them what's going on in the process, it still makes them feel better when they see it come out publicly."
Franklin said that he has received positive feedback from Penn State lettermen regarding the contract. Among them was former defensive lineman Anthony Adams, who visited with Franklin after a game this season.
"He said, 'Coach I love what you're doing with the winning and those types of things, but it's the other stuff,'" Franklin said. "It's how much we care about the kids, the impact Penn State had on him and the impact that the coaches had on him.
"And I think that's something that's always resonated with me, since I've come back to Penn State, is how important the entire experience is for Penn Staters: for our lettermen, for the people in the community, the type of young men we recruit, the families that we join with, all those things are important. So the feedback from the lettermen has been really good."
Penn State plays Arkansas in the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl in Tampa. The Lions are playing in their fifth Outback Bowl and first since 2011. Penn State and Arkansas are meeting for the first time.