Penn State sought to "send a signal" by signing James Franklin to a long-term deal, athletic director Sandy Barbour said Thursday, one that made clear how the university views its head football coach.
"I think his body of work really spoke to me and spoke to the leadership on campus, and we wanted to send a signal to him and we wanted to send a signal to everybody else that, you’ve heard it from me, he’s our guy," Barbour said in Tampa, Fla., ahead of Saturday's Outback Bowl. "Penn State is a place where we like to feel comfortable with leadership over long, sustained periods of time.
"Certainly, as a follower and a student of leadership, sustained consistent leadership, when you’ve got a good one, it's really, really positive, and I think Penn State has historically benefitted from that."
Barbour spoke to reporters about a range of topics, though the first subject regarded the 10-year deal scheduled to keep Franklin at Penn State through the 2031 season. The contract is worth a guaranteed $70 million, with other financial considerations bringing its value to $85 million.
It also includes a variety of performance-based bonuses and a buyout clause friendly to Franklin. Barbour said that Franklin's 67-33 record at Penn State was a consideration but not the primary reason for the extended deal.
"You look at what we’ve seen from James as it relates to who he is, what his values are, what his fit is for us, how he develops student-athletes and then, oh by the way, he's also won a lot of football games," Barbour said. "As you really dig into it, that [2016-19] period was as good as we’ve been in 35-40 years."
Check out Barbour's full press conference courtesy of Lions247.
Barbour added that the contract negotiations hinged largely on considerations outside Franklin's salary. Penn State currently is expanding the Lasch Football Building as part of a $69 million series of renovations. Expanding the budget for facilities, staff and other program investments was at the core of the negotiations, Barbour said.
"I would not ever characterize James as uncertain about anything," Barbour said. "The conversations were really good and, I’ll be honest, they were mostly about the program and how we together saw the program and saw the investment in the program.
"It’s all things we talked about the last seven years and either checked off the list or we need to continue to work on. I don't think there's anything that was a surprise."
Barbour said that she and Franklin are "absolutely aligned" in their visions for the program. She didn't expect that to change under new Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi, who takes over after serving as president at the University of Louisville for three years.
"We see success and we see the investments for success very similarly, as does [retiring president Eric Barron]," Barbour said. "We've enjoyed that for seven years, and now we're going to have a new president. I've had some conversations there and I expect to continue to have 100-percent alignment."
Barbour said Penn State's salary pool for assistant coaches ranks "right toward the top" of the Big Ten. The Lions could be hiring a new special teams coordinator soon.
As of now, Penn State does not plan to require proof of vaccination to attend on-campus sporting events, Barbour said.
Regarding Beaver Stadium ticket sales, Barbour said that Penn State might have set a revenue record in 2021. Penn State ranked second nationally behind Michigan in announced attendance this season (106,799).