Franklin eager to get to know new athletic director

UNIVERSITY PARK – Football coach James Franklin had no input on Penn State’s decision to hire Sandy Barbour as the new athletic director, but he said he has “tremendous faith and excitement moving forward” with his new boss.

The poor graduation rate of the Cal football program during Barbour’s tenure there was a major topic of conversation Saturday. Penn State has long been a leader in football graduation rates, and Franklin doesn’t see that changing.

“The most important thing is there is a history and there is a culture and a tradition at Penn State of tremendous academic achievement, and that will continue,” Franklin said. “I know it’s important to our president, and I know it’s important, obviously, to our athletic director and all of our coaches.”

Franklin only met Barbour for the first time Saturday, shortly before she was announced as AD at a noon news conference. The coach said he has worked with people who know of Barbour’s career, and vice versa, but they had never crossed paths.

It will take some time to forge a strong working relationship, Franklin said. How much time?

“That’s hard to say,” he said. “I’m not the most patient person. You’d love for it to happen in the next week. That’s not going to happen. It’s going to happen naturally over time. … There’s already mutual respect there, and now we’ve just got to continue to develop that relationship and that trust and that bond.”

The working relationship and communication between an AD and coach can be very different depending on the people involved. A lot of it depends, Franklin said, on the AD’s leadership style.

“Some ADs you might talk to them on a daily basis, every single day,” the coach said. “Some it may be weekly, some it may be monthly. It just depends on the structure that’s put in place and their leadership style. I’m comfortable with either. I’ve kind of been in multiple different settings like that.”

Franklin joked that he will not be the person who helps Barbour get acclimated in State College, saying he himself only knows about three restaurants and the airport.

Asked if he will go to Barbour with ideas or wait for her to initiate communication, Franklin said, “It needs to be both ways.” Any healthy working relationship, he added, should be a give and take that way.

“For me, the athletic director is a resource that I can go to,” Franklin said. “She’s got tremendous experience. She’s been doing this over 30 years. I want to become that type of resource for her when it comes to my expertise, which is running the football program.”