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Penn State’s James Franklin is weary of current college football model [opinion]

James Franklin almost always walks into a room carrying high wattage and positivity, like he asks Penn State football players to do.

Friday was different, though. The 51-year-old Franklin looked drawn and weary when he sat down at Beaver Stadium for Peach Bowl media day.

He and his assistant coaches had been on the road the last two weeks recruiting and making in-house visits to high school seniors who had already committed to the Nittany Lions.

Several questions into the press conference, Franklin was asked to describe his recent schedule.

“Are you saying that because I look like (expletive) right now?” he asked.

Yes he did, as a matter of fact. His energy was as low as anyone in the room had seen.

Since Penn State’s 42-0 victory over Michigan State on Nov. 24 in Detroit, Franklin has had a full plate like all major college football coaches.

He’s been dealing with recruiting leading up to the early signing day on Wednesday.

He’s been trying to manage the Lions roster, whether it’s potential additions and subtractions via the transfer portal and how much NIL money players want to stay or come to Penn State.

He’s been learning which draft-eligible players are opting out of the Peach Bowl against Ole Miss and declaring for the NFL draft.

But he also has had to search for a new offensive coordinator, Andy Kotelnicki, and for a new defensive coordinator after Manny Diaz left to become head coach at Duke.

All while preparing for a New Year’s Six bowl game against the No. 11 team in the country.

It’s enough to fatigue even such a high-energy guy like Franklin.

“It’s challenging,” he said. “We’re running in a thousand different directions, and then it’s magnified when you have an offensive coordinator search.

“Then as soon as you get that done, you think you can take a deep breath and get back to focusing on my players and recruiting, one of your staff members gets a chance to be a head coach in the ACC, which is awesome for him and his future and his family. Then you’re starting all over again. It has been a sprint.”

It’s the current model of college football that exhausts Franklin, what with the transfer portal, the NIL money and little rules enforcement by the NCAA these days.

If coaches aren’t on top of things 24 hours a day, their programs can fall quickly.

“Tampering is rampant,” he said. “I think if you talked to any college football coach in the country, that’s an issue. Agents and coaches calling parents, calling high school coaches of (players on) your current team, it is rampant.

“All the reasons why we’ve had all these rules in place that now are not being enforced. All these rules were put in place for a reason.”

Allowing college athletes to transfer once and play immediately at their new school has created something close to free agency. If an athlete chooses to transfer more than once, he or she must receive a waiver to gain immediate eligibility. Without the waiver, the athlete would have to sit out a year.

Seven states are seeking a restraining order in federal court that would allow athletes to be eligible immediately if they transfer more than once. The NCAA is arguing that if the states win, the result would be “a system of perpetual and unchecked free agency.”

“It is chaotic,” Franklin said. “You’re recruiting your own roster. There are mixed messages everywhere. There are agendas in every direction. It’s more challenging than it’s ever been.

“Schedule-wise, you used to be able to just focus on your current team and recruits. Now obviously the transfer portal is factoring into it as well.”

Almost 3,000 college football players have entered their names in the NCAA transfer portal since the end of the regular season. About 62% have committed to new schools or decided to stay at their old ones.

Some put their names in the portal only because they’d like to go to the highest bidder in terms of NIL dollars. If you think the system is broken, you’re not alone.

A tired Franklin painted a pessimistic view of his sport’s future.

“I don’t know how to pull it back,” he said. “I think that’s the challenge for the NCAA, for (conference) commissioners, for ADs and for college football coaches. I think the only people who can really fix this are the commissioners. They’re the ones who have the power to do it.

“Get all the commissioners in a room for like a week. Lock the door and let’s come up with a new model for college football because I don’t think this is sustainable for the players most importantly, but also for the coaches. You’re going to see more and more coaches leaving college football.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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