Franklin Awaits Balance of Family

The Penn State coach is anxious for his wife and daughters to join him in Happy Valley. It won't happen until July, though.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Penn State football coach James Franklin has talked about each Nittany Lion home game next fall being a family reunion. The goal is to help mend a PSU gridiron community that was fractured by the scandal and controversy of 2011 and '12, and by extension pack 107,000-seat Beaver Stadium.

But long before the season gets here -- yet “not soon enough,” according to Franklin -- he will be focused on a different kind of reunion.

Franklin came to Penn State from Vanderbilt in early January. At the time, he and his wife, Fumi, decided that she and their two young daughters would remain in Nashville through the end of the school year. Beyond being on hand for Franklin's introductory press conference, they also made short visits to Happy Valley for signing day in early February and for the Blue-White Game in early April.

The Franklin ladies won't arrive in State College for good until July.

“That's one of those things I think that in theory we did the right thing -- stay, finish up the school year,” Franklin said Tuesday. “They go to a great school in Nashville, had a great experience.

“But being away from your family that long is hard,” he added. “I know it's hard on me. My wife said it's really hard on our oldest daughter (Shola, 7). My youngest daughter (Addison, 6), I think she's cool. She's independent. At least she doesn't show it.”

"Being away from your family that long is hard. I know it's hard on me."

Franklin addressed the topic at a press conference before speaking to a crowd of boosters at the Williamsport stop on the PSU Coaches Caravan promotional tour. It was destination No. 13 on a three-week, 17-city trek across Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

The tour is hardly all that is keeping Franklin busy these days. He and his staff have also assembled the nation's second-ranked recruiting class. Long days (and nights, as it turns out) are spent at the Lasch Football Building focusing on improving every aspect of the program, from assessing personnel down to minute details like checking the quality of the carpet in the locker room.

Franklin also jumps on every reasonable promotional request, whether it is throwing out the first pitch for the local Little League or cramming umpteen radio interviews into a given day. In fact, before throwing out the first pitch in question, he did a national radio interview from his car.

As crazy as his days are, there is still an obvious hole in every one of them.

“Skyping and Facetime and those things help,” Franklin said of communicating with his family. “But it's been a long time. I haven't seen them since the spring game. And before that, I hadn't really seen them (much).”

Though it is not quite the same as having his girls in town, in a way Franklin does have family in State College. All but one of his assistant coaches and many of his staffers worked for him at Vanderbilt. So most of their families know one another.

And as more and more of the spouses and kids arrive in Happy Valley, it feels more and more like home for everyone. And that should ease the transition for Shola and Addison.

“They're coming to this community, and they already have a support system of people they know,” he said.

It can't happen soon enough for the Nittany Lion coach.

“We need to get that balance back, there's no doubt about it,” Franklin said. “I think that's very, very important.”

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