The 41-year-old Franklin was named Penn State's coach on Jan. 11 after leading Vanderbilt to its third straight bowl. The former Neshaminy High QB from Langhorne, Pa., takes over for Bill O'Brien, who left for the Houston Texans.
DAN PATRICK:What is the etiquette around signing players who made a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt?
January 27, 2014
JAMES FRANKLIN: I don't know. I know I've been sitting in living rooms with families and kids and selling them on a dream and selling them on our relationship. I think a lot of people say kids should commit to a school and not to a coach, but the reality is they do [commit to a coach]. Families and kids want to know their son is going to be taken care of.
DP:Did you reach out to former Penn State coach Bill O'Brien?
JF: Yeah. Billy is a good friend. We worked together at Maryland. I talked to him throughout the process. Billy's not a guy who's going to sugarcoat it. I'm walking in here knowing what the challenges and concerns are. Billy said, Listen, you have some work to do, but a few years down the road that could be a very special place.
DP:What did O'Brien tell you that's your biggest concern?
JF: Obviously depth. When you start losing scholarships, it doesn't have a big hit for you early on, but as it [continues], it starts to have a bigger effect. Down the road that could be a real positive because we're going to be able to sell playing time.
DP:You said this was your dream job. That's a dangerous statement for coaches. You hear that, and then they move on.
JF: It's dangerous if you don't mean it. A lot of coaches throw it out there, and they don't mean it. I had some opportunities to interview at different places and turned them down. I'd love to be here as long as I can be.
DP:Can you say something negative about Urban Meyer? Let's get something started.
JF:[Laughs.] I'll bet you would love that. I have tremendous respect for what he's done.
DP:Think you could take Meyer in a fight?
JF: My focus is on [our season opener against] Central Florida in Dublin and George O'Leary. I love George, too.
JF:[Laughs.] You'd love for me to go there. You're not getting me.
DP:What has changed with hiring African-American coaches?
JF: We're getting to a point in our society where it's not an issue anymore. You hire the most qualified person. You look at the history of Vanderbilt. Four bowl games in 121 years. One winning season in the 28 years before we got there. People looked at our work. With that comes opportunities.
I asked new Texans coach Bill O'Brien if he would draft Johnny Manziel even though Manziel plays a different style than many of the quarterbacks O'Brien has coached. "I don't think you're looking for a certain style," he said. "At that position you're looking for a smart guy, a guy who's obsessed with winning. Every player is unique and has a different style." ... Kurt Warner has told me that he has concerns about his sons playing football. But he won't stand in their way. "As a parent, I want to make sure that my kids are healthy," Warner said. "My boys love to play. They want to make a living doing it. My goal as a parent is to support that." ... Even though he didn't win a Super Bowl, Dan Marino told me he wasn't bothered when CBS colleague Shannon Sharpe claimed a quarterback needs a ring to cement his legacy. "If I played on some of the teams he played on," Marino said, "I would have won Super Bowls too."