Outkick: Franklin talks Penn State homecoming, tough move from Vandy
MAR 04, 2014 5:25p ET
Has the move sunk in? "I haven't gotten used to it yet," the 42-year-old coach told Clay Travis. "It will be great once my family gets here. I am still in a Residence Inn."
Growing up in Pennsylvania, Franklin had dreams of playing quarterback at a big school, perhaps Penn State. They were quickly dashed at a summer camp.
"My focus was to be the next Randall Cunningham," he said. "Jim Caldwell was the quarterbacks coach, and he gave me the stiff-arm. He told me I wasn't good enough, which I wasn't."
Franklin knows this isn't an overnight process at State College.
"To be honest with you, I think it really takes three years to figure out how to get things done," he said. "All these places are complicated and sophisticated ... It takes time.
"It will take two-three years here to work things through it ... It has been a sprint since the day we arrived and it will be that for two-three years."
One of the perks of being a big name associated with Penn State can be having an ice cream flavor named after you at The Creamery on campus. Franklin looks forward to that day.
"No ice cream flavor yet," he said. "I have had a little bit more important things on my plate than ice cream flavors. The Creamery is unbelievable -- 72 hours from the cow to the cone."
Popularity doesn't restrict itself to ice cream. When the search was on for a coach at Penn State, Franklin found himself the recipient of text messages -- a slew of them.
"It's two things; after you win the bowl game you get blown up. I had 178 text messages after our last win," he said. "And that is people with all different comments. It's a whirlwind. You can't respond. After I got the job here, I spent from 2 in the morning to 3 in the morning returning text messages. You can't get caught up. It took a week and a half to catch up."
Leaving Vanderbilt wasn't easy.
"I struggled with it and almost went back and forth and almost didn't do it," he said. "Whenever you leave there will be hurt feelings. Saying goodbye in front of the team was one of the hardest things I had to do emotionally.
"I had the opportunity to come back home. We discussed it as a coaching staff and a family, and we had an opportunity to come home."
Saying goodbye to his Commodore players wasn't easy, either.
"It's a gut punch, because you care so much," he said. "The reason we were successful was because of the chemistry with the kids and the community. Our kids played hard for each other. Walking into that room, guys that you have had at your house, guys your daughters look at as uncles ... it's hard. I got emotional with them."
Recently Vanderbilt's new coach, Derek Mason, said he'd like for the Commodores to play Penn State anytime, any place, anywhere. Asked about a potential game, Franklin replied, "A game in the future if it makes sense, we'd be open to talking about. Especially since it's anytime, any place, anywhere. So we'll look at bringing them to Happy Valley and playing here and get into some discussions, possibly."
And now, the present and future collide in Happy Valley.
"I knew very little about the Penn State roster," said Franklin, who was able to keep his Vanderbilt coaching staff intact at his new school. "There are challenges and issues here that we have to work through and overcome. But long-term you have a chance to have one of the more special jobs in all of college football."
You can listen to the full podcast above or download it on iTunes.