STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Sometimes, James Franklin's perpetually sunny outlook masks the reality of his situation.
Penn State's football coach acknowledges he set expectations too high when he was hired two years ago. Then came back-to-back ho-hum seasons, with his teams finishing a combined 14-12 and 0-6 against Big Ten East heavyweights Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan.
These middling results have done little to endear Franklin to fans in Happy Valley. But he senses their ire and shares their frustration. He also knows Year 3 will be the toughest yet considering the early departures and transfers of a handful of star players and heavy staff turnover.
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''That's probably the most challenging situation for a football coach,'' Franklin said during a conference call Saturday. ''To explain to people where we truly are but get people excited about the program as well and that's a delicate balance.''
Franklin's solution? He's stopped reading most stories written about his team. He's also sticking with positive thinking.
''Anybody that logically sits down and takes the emotion out of it and lists out all the challenges and situations that we've been through over the last four to five years, it makes sense (where we are),'' Franklin said. ''I changed my philosophy this year and really just kind of spent my time focused on things in our program.''
He's had to. Especially over the last two months.
In that span, Franklin has had to replace ousted offensive coordinator John Donovan, settle on a new defensive coordinator after Bob Shoop left for the same position at Tennessee, hire an offensive line coach to replace Herb Hand who took the same job at Auburn and contemplate a 2016 season without star quarterback Christian Hackenberg and vaunted defensive tackle Austin Johnson - both declared early for the NFL draft.
It's been an unfamiliar process for Franklin, who had mostly kept his staff intact since he first became a head coach at Vanderbilt in 2011.
When LSU courted Shoop last season, Penn State's administration responded quickly, locking him up with an extension and a raise. And Franklin said Saturday that Shoop wasn't the only Penn State coach who had offers.
Franklin said he was a ''little surprised'' and a ''little hurt'' to lose Shoop, especially after the defensive whiz said he wanted to stay at Penn State for as long as possible just days before Penn State's loss to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl. But Franklin understands the business of the game.
''That's really what you see in college football right now,'' Franklin said. ''Do I like it? No. But that's the reality of it. People are going to make choices that they think are in the best interest of their families and best interest professionally as well.''
Franklin hired former Fordham coach Joe Moorhead to oversee an offensive overhaul and linebackers coach Brent Pry was promoted to defensive coordinator. Former Illinois defensive coordinator Tim Banks was tabbed to help Pry and Matt Limegrover, formerly the offensive coordinator at Minnesota, will coach an offensive line that has been among the worst in the Big Ten the last two years.
''Every day that I'm around them, I feel better and better about the decision that we made,'' Franklin said. ''I think Penn State, you look at our past, it's been a little bit of an anomaly when it comes to consistency on the staff. And we want to get back to that.''