Editor’s Note: This story is part of Onward State’s April Fool’s Day series. It is satirical, intended for entertainment and should not be taken literally. All quotes were made for the purposes of this article.
By Ryan Parsons and Will Pegler
Remember when James Franklin offered to have a few “basement beers” with some members of the media this fall? We do.
After our courteous follow-up on the invite, Onward State was among those granted exclusive access to Franklin’s Man Cave for a few beers and a chat about all things Penn State football. The head coach slyly asked us to join him before
Outback Bowl The Tampa Bay Bowl, and after a few months of nervous anticipation, we finally sat down to some cold entrees.
“How are you, James?”
Anyway, we managed to have fun with our good friend, but we also knew that we had to fulfill our role as student journalists. Here’s everything we talked about with the coach – on and “off” the record.
On the loss of Illinois
Although Franklin isn’t completely sure, he did suggest that Sean Clifford was actually ~under the weather~ during this match. When the head coach implicit after the game that his QB1 wasn’t at full strength against the Fighting Illini, he wasn’t technically lying.
To keep things equal, we may have had a hangover in the press box as well.
Franklin also oddly threw Eric Barron under the bus because he knew the president would be out of Happy Valley in the summer of 2022. Honestly, such a wise move.
“They came out with this jumbo formation on the offensive line, and honestly, we didn’t know what to do,” Franklin said. “I watched Brent [Pry], and he looked as confused as I did, so I called Eric Barron in the presidential suite and he made it clear to me that we shouldn’t change our defensive plan… Blame him. Sorry.”
On his ‘1-0’ mentality
Penn State fans, stop bothering Franklin about this one, because he East a joke. The Nittany Lions have an interesting habit of leaving losses snowball under Franklin, who questioned the head coach’s mantra of “treating every opponent the same”.
It seems like a trope for a reason, as Franklin admitted the team didn’t even watch the 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’ line about taking responsibility for all the coaching staff’s problems, but he looked a little different when he chilled out 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 the offensive line was bad this year,” Franklin said. “Add him to the list of things I get blamed for that aren’t my fault. I don’t like Phil. Right after I moved to State College, he showed up at my house with a box of chocolates. Chocolate?Do you think I can eat that?I’m running on Waffle House espressos and Orbit gum, mate.
On his new contract
As we enjoyed drinks in his luxurious man cave, we’d be fools not to ask him about his massive new 10-year contract as head coach of Penn State. Jacques had many tell critics of his contract.
“Anyone can stop complaining, I’ll tell you,” Franklin said. “What? I can’t get 55 hours on a private jet? How else am I going to get to Virginia for recruiting trips?”
In Franklin’s defense, we can personally attest to the seriousness of trafficking in Virginia. You win this one, James.
On ‘Deez Nuts’ Jokes
It was a little weird. Sometime in the evening, Franklin asked Athleticism journalist Audrey Snyder if she has ever tried the “Deez IPA”.
Poor Audrey responded by saying, “No, what is Deez? and Franklin immediately yelled, “DEEZ FUCKING NUTS!” I HAVE THEM.”
On his favorite beer
We tried to pressure Franklin about it, but he “didn’t want to get into it.” It sounded quite similar to his response to the coaching carousel rumors, which was odd for an off-the-record meeting.
He drank about three glasses of milk over the course of the evening while we drank Hazy Little Thing IPAs. Do what you want with it.
Well, it was honestly an amazing experience. If we hadn’t been fired by James’s wife at 9 p.m., we would have hung out for hours.
Covering Penn State football going forward, we both now have new confidence with the head of Penn State. After a few glasses of milk, James clearly relaxes and is much more willing to share his views.
James, all we can say is thank you. The next drink is for us!