Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Social Networks Give Franklin a Glimpse

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Social Networks Give Franklin a Glimpse

Article excerpt

When it comes to getting the skinny on behavior of potential Penn State prospects, coach James Franklin says his staff will go through as many character evaluations as possible.

He said no decision can be made with just one or two pieces of information. So the staff talks to coaches, teammates, teachers, lunch ladies and custodians. They scour a kid's transcript for courses, tardy marks, absentees and of course the grade-point average. If a kid comes from a single-parent home Franklin said that one parent "better be strong."

At a time when many people document their lives 140 characters at a time, Franklin said social media gives the staff a window into who a prospect is based on his tweets, retweets, likes and follows. It can turn them on or off to a kid based on what they find.

"All those things paint a picture of what you're investing in," Franklin said Friday at Big Ten Conference media days in Chicago. "Not every kid is going to have a 4.0 GPA and be an Eagle Scout. Some of the most rewarding experiences are the kids who maybe came from a tough situation and just needed structure and an opportunity."

Social media posts in the wee hours of the morning on school nights or repeated posts with inappropriate content can be met with a red flag from the staff. Franklin, who majored in psychology as an undergraduate at East Stroudsburg University, said sometimes he also can learn a little more about a kid if he direct messages him at 5 a.m. on a weekend and receives a quick reply.

Looking for trends of positive or negative behavior is all part of figuring out if a student-athlete is worth the investment, he said.

"There's that fine line and I don't really know exactly what the answer is and I don't know if anybody does," he said. "You look at the NFL, they spend more money than anybody to do research and they make mistakes."

Haslett the perfect storm

Franklin hired Jim Haslett in late June, naming the former New Orleans Saints head coach and Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Penn State's "consultant. …

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