STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - James Franklin rises from his bed before sunlight can break through his new Port Matilda home.

It's the Sunday after a game day in Happy Valley, but there's no hangover for the Nittany Lions coach - Sunday mornings are for him and the girls.

"When I say I make them breakfast, it's pour cereal in a bowl," said Franklin, smiling as he clarifies that his breakfast special for his two daughters isn't all that special. "And waffles, frozen waffles, and toast. My one daughter loves Eggos, so we'll do that."

Franklin has savored opportunities to spend time with his family since accepting Penn State's head coaching position in January, when he immediately transitioned into one of the most demanding roles in college football.

The coach's task not only involves taking on a new program in a new place. He also has taken on a team at a university that still is recovering from a harsh set of sanctions imposed after the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

Such opportunities were few and far between during a seven-month period when his wife, Fumi, and two daughters, Shola (7) and Addison (6), remained in Nashville until the school year was completed.

In the meantime, the former Vanderbilt coach began digging in to the recruiting trail and assimilating himself with his new Big Ten squad, which hosts Michigan State on Saturday in its season finale. Franklin actually spent several months sleeping on an office couch while his home was being selected and prepared.

Franklin said it was a challenge not having his wife and daughters by his side during so much of the transition. The Langhorne native, who grew up under the guidance of a do-it-all mother, said he'd likely handle the move differently if he could do it over again.

"It's one thing to do it for a couple weeks or a month, but seven months is a long time," Franklin said. "It's a long time."

It's 6:30 a.m. on a Tuesday in mid-November, and Franklin's phone vibrates every few minutes on a long, wooden table in his Lasch Building office. His alarm went off at 5, but as usual the seemingly motorized coach woke up prior to its sounding.

Franklin is donning a Penn State football sweatshirt, the same dark shade of gray found sneaking through his well-groomed goatee. Framed pictures of his wife and daughters surround the well-kept office space.

But on his 305th day of coaching the Nittany Lions, Franklin admits he still has boxes to unpack.

"I know that sounds ridiculous," Franklin said. "But the focus was on getting my daughters settled first, getting my wife next, and then me."

Franklin and his family finally moved into their new home, located less than 15 minutes from campus, a few games into the season. (When Franklin was rejoined by his wife and daughters over the summer, all four family members stayed in receivers coach Josh Gattis' basement for several weeks.)

Franklin said he was still sleeping on a mattress on the bedroom floor more than two months into the season.

"After this spring and summer, when we have more time to [settle in], we will," Franklin said. "But at this point, everybody's still kind of sprinting."

But they are at least sprinting together.

In addition to Sunday mornings with his daughters, Franklin gets to spend one or two nights a week with his wife and kids.

And while time with his family may lack in quantity, Franklin has sought to compensate in quality. The 42-year-old coach and his family celebrated Halloween last month with coordinated costumes from the Disney movie Frozen. Franklin said Shola and Addison "got a kick out of" their father's having technical difficulties with his Olaf costume.

"We cut the eyes out so I could see, but then breathing fogged my glasses up. So it was a mess," Franklin said, shaking his head. "[But] we walked around our neighborhood, and the kids had fun, which is the most important part."

Franklin also welcomes his daughters to the Nittany Lions practice at least once a week, after they finish their days at Park Forest Elementary School.

"The family aspect that Coach Franklin brings to this team is something that's really special," redshirt freshman tackle Andrew Nelson said. "I really respect him for that, for how much time he puts toward his family even though he's got such a time commitment to football."

At practice, Shola and Addison excitedly warm up with the team, tackling each other and playing catch with their father. The coach, who earns more than $4 million a year, gladly corrects their throwing motion minutes before doing the same for quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

"Mom, can we stay for warm-ups?" they ask. Fumi offers her nod of approval.

Franklin considers his family blessed to have a stay-at-home mother in Fumi, particularly because he had "really no clue" how to raise daughters.

"You try to do a good job and build really strong, confident women that are going to be able to go out and be independent," Franklin said. "Obviously, having a wife like that is helpful, because she's a great role model."

Franklin said coaching is a profession in which it can often seem as if there aren't enough hours in the day. However, he is determined not to let his family become distant as a result.

Franklin's father was not often present in his household growing up, so he said he learned to be a good parent from his mother, Jocelyn, who was a hall aide in the Neshaminy school district.

"My mom kind of played both roles," Franklin said. "And I've always said, to me, you'd love to have two parents in the home. But if not, you've got to have at least one really strong parent. And that's what I had with my mom. Really great work ethic, put everything into her family and her kids."

The coach said he's also been influenced by Joan and Gary Bowman, the parents of one of his neighborhood friends. Gary was the superintendent of Neshaminy when Franklin attended the district. Franklin said the Bowman family was "the most traditional family I knew."

Joan Bowman said she saw Franklin mature from a 5-year-old riding his tricycle - which was known as the "green machine" - into the successful leader he is today.

"His dad was in and out during his growing years, but his mother was the stable one," she said.

The Bowmans attended Penn State's bowl-eligibility-clinching win over Temple earlier this month and admired the way Franklin included his daughters in the celebratory postgame news conference. Afterward, Franklin gave a tour of his new home to Gary and Joan, whom he considers his "mom and dad" now that both of his parents have died.

"All over the house, there are pictures of his children and his wife," Joan said. "I said to my husband, 'I really feel as though he wants to be a good dad.' . . . I think he's compensating for the childhood he didn't have."

And although Franklin will continue to lean on his regimented schedule to help lift Penn State's football program from a damaging period of sanctions, he vows to never let these efforts get in the way of parenting - his toughest task yet.

"It's a challenge," Franklin said. "But you just make it - you make it happen. You have to. Because if not, you'll regret it. And that's the most important job we have."