Penn State coach James Franklin caught people’s attention on Tuesday after twice misspeaking during the first of his two weekly news conferences. It was the first since his team’s nine-overtime loss to Illinois over the weekend.
Penn State — which fell from No. 7 to No. 20 in the AP Top 25 after losing to the unranked Illini, 20-18 — takes on No. 5 Ohio State in Columbus this weekend. Franklin has never won there since taking over the Nittany Lions and has only beaten the Buckeyes once, in 2016.
Franklin first misspoke at the end of his opening statement; he concluded it by talking about the challenge presented by playing in The Big House, home of Michigan. Penn State travels to the Horseshoe, which houses the Buckeyes.
His second misstep came after he was asked a question about how far into the future he looks to assess where Penn State is as a program. Franklin, like most coaches, takes things on a week-by-week basis — or so they say. As a result, foresight and bigger pictures aren’t always front of mind.
Regardless, Franklin said his team would try to remain focused on Illinois this week, despite the fact his team is playing Ohio State.
These two slips of the tongue aren’t the only reason Franklin has been in the news recently though.
Reports surfaced late Monday that Franklin, who has been brought up as a possible candidate at both USC and LSU, changed his agent and representation from Trace Armstrong of Athletes First to CAA’s Jimmy Sexton. Many speculated that, by changing agents, he was looking at taking a new job — either in Los Angeles or Baton Rouge.
Franklin addressed those reports and said it was a move that was made over the summer — before any speculation of other jobs arose — but is just coming to light now. He also reaffirmed his commitment to Penn State in the process.
“I’m completely focused on our season and our team and finding a way to beat Ohio State and to be 1-0 this week,” Franklin said. “I’m not going to get into the details. 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.”
Penn State is currently 5-2 this season, and just 9-7 since the start of last year. Franklin is 65-30 at Penn State and 89-45 in his career as a head coach, which included a stop at Vanderbilt before coming to Penn State.