DALLAS – It seems like an annual end-of-the-season custom where Penn State head coach James Franklin is contacted by one or more football programs seeking a change in leadership. And one would think Franklin’s boss worries when that happens.

But to the contrary, Sandy Barbour says, “I think it’s awesome.”

“You always want someone that other people want because if they don’t, you’ve got a different kind of problem,” Barbour, Penn State’s vice president of athletics, said Friday during her yearly bowl week talk with the media.

“I love the fact that Penn State has a head coach that a lot of other people want. This contract, any contract, is not going to stop that and I don’t really want it to. I want us to continue to have the kind of success that’s going to draw other people to James. But he’s a Penn Stater, he’s our coach and he’s going to remain that way.”

Franklin agreed to a new six-year contract on Dec. 6. That came after reports surfaced about Florida State and Southern California reaching out to him.

Terms of the contract have yet to be revealed. Barbour said she hoped that details could be released some time next month.

James Franklin agreed to a six-year deal to remain at Penn State after reports surfaced that Florida State and USC reached out to him.
CRAIG HOUTZ / For the Inquirer
James Franklin agreed to a six-year deal to remain at Penn State after reports surfaced that Florida State and USC reached out to him.

Addressing reports that Franklin used the talks to try to get more money for his assistant coaches, Barbour said she would “hesitate to say that those ended up being part of the contract negotiation.”

She said she has sat down with Franklin for the last three years to determine a total salary amount for his coaches “and that’s what he’s been given, and this year is no different.”

On other football-related items, Barbour called a renovation of Beaver Stadium “years away, but that’s such a massive project that it will take that long and so the planning process needs to go there.”

She also said that while the Penn State-Pittsburgh rivalry is not dead, “it’s not something we’re talking about right now.” The intrastate rivals met last September for the 100th time, the final game of their most recent four-game series, and no new games have been scheduled.

“With us playing a nine-game schedule, and them playing an eight-game schedule, it’s a different proposition for them than it is for us,” Barbour said. “I would certainly not say it’s dead. I would say it’s not something we’re talking about right now. We’ve got a Power 5 game scheduled out for a number of years.”

Chisena making a mark

Penn State's Dan Chisena celebrates after bringing down Michigan's Donovan Peoples-Jones on a punt return during the Nittany Lion's 28-21 win back on Oct. 19.
HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Penn State's Dan Chisena celebrates after bringing down Michigan's Donovan Peoples-Jones on a punt return during the Nittany Lion's 28-21 win back on Oct. 19.

In his last season on the football team, after spending most of his Penn State athletic career competing in track, fifth-year senior Dan Chisena made his mark as a “gunner” on the punt coverage teams.

Chisena, a former PIAA state track champion in the sprints at Downingtown East High School, made four tackles and recovered a fumble on a coverage unit that ranked seventh in the nation.

“I had never done that before,” he said of his role. “I wouldn’t say there was any doubt in my mind. I was just excited for the opportunity and was going to put everything I had into it … just go for it and come out and play.”

Chisena caught three passes for 66 yards in limited action at wide receiver, but he felt fortunate being able to return to football after his track eligibility ended in the spring of 2018. After spending most of 2018 on the scout team, he was awarded a scholarship by head coach James Franklin at the Blue-White Game last spring.

“I’ve just had such a great experience here, there’s no way to put it into words,” he said. “To be able to come to the Cotton Bowl for my last ever Penn State football game, it’s a special experience, a special trip and it’s a special culmination of the past year and a half. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to do it with.”