James Franklin talks discipline philosophy, addresses Rose Bowl suspensions
ALTOONA — Penn State wide receiver Saeed Blacknall and linebacker Manny Bowen stayed in California with their teammates for last year’s Rose Bowl, but they didn’t participate.
“I think that’s one of the things coaches struggle with, I think businesses struggle with, universities struggle with, is that when they make decisions, people on the outside judge those decisions,” Franklin said, “but they have very little of the information, in my opinion, to make that judgement with.”
A number of factors went into the decision to let both players stay, Franklin said.
“We’re going to include those guys on the trip because number one, these guys already feel bad enough that they aren’t playing the game,” Franklin said. “Where the difference is there’s a public aspect of this, as well. Media covers this, the family’s embarrassed, they’re embarrassed. It’s different than a normal student getting in trouble.
“And then on top of that, it’s not like they came with us and did everything that the team did. They were doing community service. We took the same exact model that we would’ve used in State College and we did it on the trip. So, those guys were doing community service and had their suspension. They basically did everything they would do in State College except they did it with us and we were supporting them.”
Franklin said he doesn’t just want to punish players. He wants to help them learn and grow, too. So while Blacknall and Bowen were penalized, they were also given support and responsibilities.
Educating the players, Franklin said, is at the top of the priority list. He often scrolls through his Twitter feed to find examples of athletes making poor decisions. Then, at the start of team meetings, he’ll go over those subjects with the team.
“Sometimes,” Franklin said, “I think if the topic hits close enough to home, we’ll mass text that out to the whole team to try to be as aggressive and consistent as possible.”