UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) — Just minutes after Steelers coach Mike Tomlin slammed reports that he’d leave Pittsburgh for a college job, all eyes were on Penn State coach James Franklin as fans hoped for a similar rebuke.
Franklin, however, took a far softer approach.
“My focus is completely on Illinois, and this team, and this program,” he said. “I think I’ve shown over my eight years my commitment to this university and this community. And that’s kind of my statement.”
It was the hardest stance Franklin has taken on the distraction of the LSU and USC coaching searches. But Penn State is facing off against Ohio State this weekend, not Illinois. This comment opened up a new can of worms.
Franklin referenced Illinois twice, rather than Ohio State in his weekly press conference. He also called Ohio State’s stadium known as “The Horseshoe” the “Big House” which is the nickname given to Michigan’s stadium. The slipups fueled speculation that Franklin is distracted.
The slipup could simply be a factor of sleepless nights following Saturday’s embarrassing loss to Illinois, or Saturday’s upcoming game with arguable the Big Ten’s best team, Ohio State. Either is cause for sleepless nights. Or it could be the distraction of other schools calling that has his mind elsewhere.
Franklin was also forced to address the reports that he hired a new agent, CAA’s Jimmy Sexton, who is one of the most powerful agents in college football. Franklin said he switched agents this summer, deflecting any sort of meaning to the current storm that rumbles around him.
“I’m not going to get into the details,” he said. “But what I will tell you is this is being reported now, but this is something that happened over the summer.”
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