Coach Franklin shakes off the chill from his time outside, enters his office and checks out the tray on his desk and sits in his allowing his feet to rest on his desk.
“The chicken orzo, a BLT, those kettle chips, an extra-large sweet tea, and TWO of those great pickles. Nice to see success has its rewards!
What a year. When I was sitting here just 8 weeks ago I had to resist questioning myself. Was I really seeing the true talent level on this team? Would we get comfortable with the new offense in time to turn the year around? Was there any way my assistants could put together a group of linebackers, defensive linemen, and offensive linemen that would function given all the injuries?
Yeah Franklin, you are a miracle worker after all. OK, I will let myself think that for five seconds.
I know we got to this place because everyone in this program worked to the best of their ability from spring practice till now. So many small details had to be completed, young men had to be motivated with one purpose in mind, and the coaches and support staff had to be committed to do whatever had to be done to make it possible for the players to succeed.
Still, there are a few decisions I made that I have to recognize and remember if I am going to have more success like this.
One decision was letting go of some friends and coworkers when I knew changes had to be made. When you do that you can have your remaining staff resent it and give up on you. These guys never gave up on me, even when I brought in new people and gave them control over major elements of the program. For that support I will always be greatful to this staff.
Then there was the AD. She spoke out when some people wanted me out of here before I had a chance to do what I had to do to make this team better. She deserves my public recognition that she did not take this program in a direction where we became an LSU, Georgia, or Texas.
Then there are the players. Saquon is so special, and not because of his football talent. He is a fine young man, a competitor, a great teammate, and role model. When your best player puts in the extra work needed to become outstanding he motivates everyone around him to get better as well.
Then there was the two part decision that was the main reason we are where we are now. First, when I put the offense in the hands of Trace I gave it to a young man who knows how to make good decisions. He limited mistakes and made use of all the skill people around him. Joe’s offense was just the thing to make the most of our talent. Second, when I chose to not play scared and place limits on Trace I freed him and everyone else to perform to the best of their ability. He may not be the big powerful athlete some teams have at the OB position, but I would not trade him for anyone else in college football.
Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin.
We get to this game with some banged up people. It is “Next man up” time. I have confidence in the people who have to step up. What a luxury to have a backup running back who scores touchdowns. The linemen buy into what their coaches teach them, and then they go out and perform. The defense will play all out, just as they have all year. I feel good about the team.
Our opponent is a tough smash mouth football team. I like how we match up against them. I have some skill people that are a step faster than their people. Their offense is not geared for the big play. Just play them even until we have someone make a play, that’s all I ask. Once we get a lead we will not look back.
Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin.
Now let’s have that pickle.”