You know, it’s not often that basketball overshadows the offseason that never sleeps, so excuse me if it’s been a while since we talked football. That being said, when it comes to James Franklin, the news cycle never stops as we all know by now. In fact, just this week, the man who’s beginning his seventh season as head coach of the Nittany Lions finally had the terms and numbers of his shiny, new contract extension released. I won’t bore you with all the numbers (somewhere in the range of $38 million) but it’s safe to say the man’s services have been signed, sealed, and delivered for the foreseeable future.
Reportedly included in this latest extension is additional money for his staff, more upgrades in on-campus facilities, and a new buyout of $5 million this year compared to the $1 million it had been under his previous contract. All this translates into a long-term commitment for a coach approaching 50, whose family has clearly settled into our little utopia in the world we call Happy Valley. We haven’t reached our peak with FrankLion at the helm, yet, but the quest for another championship is alive and well. Winter workouts have already reached the home stretch and before you know it, Spring Ball will be here as it all culminates with our first official tailgate of the season and the annual Blue-White game on April 18th.
Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, a quieter than usual NFL Combine kicked off on the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium. After sending eight Nittany Lions to Indy in 2018 and seven a year ago, Penn State has five players set to take center stage in 2020. KJ Hamler and sack master Yetur Gross-Matos are both projected as early-round picks and as no matter how well they perform with all eyes watching. The remaining three, linebacker Cam Brown, defensive tackle Rob Windsor, and cornerback John Reid are the only players that remain from the 2016 team that raised the Big Ten banner as conference champs, and they are out to prove they have what it takes to earn a spot in the big league.
Back home in Happy Valley, a resolution was announced last week between Sue Paterno and the University which included a statement on Penn State’s behalf that praised the accomplishments of Joe Paterno both on the field and off during his tenure. I’ll leave the statue debate to someone else but this seems like a good first step towards properly honoring the man that meant so much to us all. For the first few years of his own tenure, James Franklin begged and pleaded with us to pull the rope in the same direction. I think this was just what we needed to put us over the top! After all, no championship would be complete without bringing JoePa along for the ride!