No Longer Broke, Penn State's James Franklin Still Chasing Dreams

The Nittany Lion coach expands on the "stay broke" comments he made during a commencement speech over the weekend.

YORK, Pa. — Penn State football coach James Franklin had an interesting suggestion for graduates while speaking at the commencement ceremony for the school’s Harrisburg campus Saturday.

“I challenge you right now, stay broke as long as you possibly can,” Franklin said, adding that NOT worrying about money would allow the grads to chase their dreams.

Franklin, it should be noted, is in the fourth year of his initial six-year contract with Penn State. He is slated to earn at least $4.6 million this year, making him — by far — the highest paid public employee in the state.

But at an alumni function here Monday, he insisted he’s never focused on making money.

“I’ve followed that model my whole career,” he said. “I’ve never made decisions based on (money). It’s something (on which) I’ve always given advice to coaches and young people coming up in the business, as well as people in general, that I believe very strongly in.

“You chase the dream,” he added. “You chase the opportunity. You find something that you’re really passionate about and the success and opportunities will come to you.”

A record-setting quarterback at East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University, Franklin’s coaching career began when he was an assistant at tiny Kutztown (Pa.) University in 1995. Over the next decade and a half, he held assistant coaching jobs at seven different colleges, one Danish team and one NFL team. Along the way he picked up a master’s degree from Washington State.

He became head coach at Vanderbilt in 2011, and stayed there for three seasons before he was hired at Penn State.

In the video above, Franklin recounts his early days in coaching, when he was making very little money, holding odd jobs to make spare cash and even living with another coach to save on rent.

In the meantime, here’s the “stay broke” portion of Franklin’s speech to the Penn State Harrisburg graduates.

“Stay broke as long as you possibly can, and chase your dreams.”

“Make decisions that are gonna be in your best interests and your family’s best interest five, 10 years down the road. All of you have been broke up to this point. Embrace it a little bit longer. Because the minute that you have to start taking money, mortgages, family — things like that — into consideration, it’s gonna change things. And there’s gonna be a time for that.”

“I challenge you right now, stay broke as long as you possibly can. And as you do that, the success, the money, all those things will come.”

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