Franklin explains classroom incident
UNIVERSITY PARK — James Franklin doesn’t want to see his Penn State football players sitting in the back of class, so last week while he was a guest in a sociology lecture, he forced three players to move up to the front row.
The funny scene was captured on video by someone in class and posted to social media, where of course, it became a viral hit.
“(They) are sitting in the back row; they’re supposed to be sitting up front,” Franklin yelled to his players in the video. “Are these three seats open? So come on down because you’re supposed to sit in the front row.”
That line drew a loud applause from other students in the class. But as the story was initially told, Franklin had crashed the class and interrupted the proceedings to address the football players.
Franklin finally had a chance to set the record straight about what happened following practice Wednesday.
“I read a bunch of articles about me going in and interrupting a class,” the coach said. “It’s been like this national story — that I just barge into a class and interrupt it.
“I got invited to speak in a class,” he explained. “As I was there, I saw some (players) who weren’t sitting in the front row. So I wanted to clear that up.”
The sociology class deals with racial issues and religious differences, Franklin said, and he was there to speak about how those issues relate to sports and societal topics.
PSU could have not just one, but two top Heisman Trophy candidates in running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley.
If, as expected, the Nittany Lions put up a ton of points this fall, and if the team wins 10 or more games, it could be nearly impossible not to have at least one of the two in the Heisman discussion.
Franklin, though, said that issue is not something that comes up within the program.
“We don’t really spend a whole lot of time talking about it,” the coach said on a teleconference Wednesday. “We’re focused on team success, and with team success will come some individual recognition. We understand that. Those guys … want to do everything they possibly can to help this team win.”
Franklin added that Barkley “has never come and talked to me about touches and those kinds of things.”
“It’s always about winning,” he said. “And when your best guys are your best leaders, you have a chance. It’s not that we’re not aware. We’re excited that these guys are a part of these conversations.”
McSorley is a quiet guy by nature, but he plans to be more of a vocal leader in his second year as the starting quarterback.
“It came out at times last year, and I think this year was the time where I feel like I needed to push it a little bit more,” McSorley said after practice Wednesday.
“Last year, when I really felt like I needed to say something, is when I would step up and say something. This year (I plan to) do it before I get that feeling.”
McSorley said the Lions are a close-knit team and pointed out the players went to a Pirates game last weekend to hang out and have fun.
“That’s the best part about our team right now is our chemistry and how comfortable we are around each other,” the quarterback said.
McSorley added that a lot of the players and their families spend time together away from football.
Mum on Reid
Cornerback John Reid is out with a serious knee injury, according to a report last week, but Franklin would not confirm or even discuss that Wednesday.
“I’m happy to talk about practice, happy to talk about guys that are practicing right now, happy to talk about the upcoming season,” Franklin said. “But as you know, I don’t get into (injury) specifics.”