Penn State's James Franklin Mastered Marketing on National Signing Day

Andrew CoppensContributor IFebruary 6, 2014

STATE COLLEGE, PA - JANUARY 11:  James Franklin, head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions addresses the media on January 11, 2014 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Of all the things that happened around the Big Ten on national signing day, no one school or one coach had the day that Penn State and James Franklin had on Wednesday. No seriously, did your favorite coach bring in the marching band or go all NFL draft while the cameras were rolling? 

In this world of viral videos and 24-hour news cycles, what James Franklin did for Penn State on national signing day is immeasurably important. 

Sure, Urban Meyer pulled in another ridiculous class. Yes, Brady Hoke got one of the best players in the country to make it official. Of course, there was the drama of Malik McDowell's announcement for Michigan State and the subsequent drama of his non-signed national letter of intent, according to Tom Markowski of The Detroit News.

None of that topped the show James Franklin and Penn State put on display though. It was one part brilliant marketing and one part sending a message to everyone else in the Big Ten. 

That message was simple—Be afraid, be very afraid. 

Not that Franklin is going to come beat you up physically, but that Franklin showed the combination of his recruiting chops and Penn State's pull has formed some sort of super-recruiting weapon that is about to be unleashed upon the rest of the Big Ten. 

On a day where everyone should've been talking about what happened in Columbus, Ohio, Franklin managed to shine some of that national spotlight on his own class—a class that was ranked third in the Big Ten by 247sports

That's mastering the skill of marketing. Getting people to stop talking about Urban Meyer on national outlets like ESPN and Fox Sports 1 and start talking about a program who's been asleep for years on national signing day is impressive. 

More importantly, Franklin recognizes how to make sure what is happening encompasses as much of Penn State as it does just his football program. 

When you get the marching band showing up to celebrate kids faxing (have they ever heard of click and send pdf's) in national letters of intent, you've just created a chance for people to remember you. 

When you step up to a podium and announce each signing as if they just were picked in the NFL draft, cameras can't help but be transfixed on you. Have your daughters get in on the act and it's instant gold. 

Most importantly, it wasn't just James Franklin, the man, taking center stage. Everything done was about Penn State, the program. 

Top it all off with a giant party that night to not only celebrate but give the fans insight on each player and there is the perfect way to cap off an introduction to the Penn State family. 

Franklin showed on Wednesday that he knows a good opportunity to self-promote when he sees one, but more importantly, he knows when to change that in to being all about the Nittany Lion logo on his chest. 

With all the negativity that has surrounded the Penn State program for the last few years, Franklin's national signing day party showed that Penn State could indeed get back to having fun with its football program once again. 

After all, football is just a game and it should be fun. 

So, while every recruiting expert was fawning over the haul from Ohio State, or the drama over Malik McDowell and Michigan State—it was Penn State stealing the headlines and making people buzz on social media and around the water coolers at work. 

Make no mistake about it, this isn't the Joe Paterno or Bill O'Brien era's at Penn State. James Franklin had a message for the Penn State family, telling them its OK to have fun with football again. He also had a message for others, too. 

To the rest of the Big Ten, Franklin said it loud and proud: Step your game up. 


*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.