Penn State’s James Franklin said Tuesday that his goal of being the first African-American head football coach to win a national championship “is probably something I do carry with me that is important to me.”
Franklin, who is in his sixth season leading the Nittany Lions, referenced his objective last week during HBO’s “247 College Football” series featuring Penn State and addressed the topic again at his weekly teleconference.
Franklin said he was inspired when two African-American NFL coaches, Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears, matched up in Super Bowl XLI at the end of the 2006 season. At the time, he was the Kansas State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“I think it had a profound impact on the sport and on the game and coaches that look like me and look like Lovie and look like Tony,” he said. “Then when you saw it happen at the NFL level and felt like that was an important moment within the sport and hopefully opened up some opportunities for others, that hopefully, the same thing could happen in college football.”
Franklin is one of 13 African-American head coaches this season out of 130 FBS teams, a number that he acknowledges “is not great” and one that “hasn’t really changed in a long time, hasn’t grown.”
He said while he is focused on his family and his program at Penn State, his goals and aspirations align with both.