By Leo Haggerty
We begin our coverage of the Outback Bowl with the customary Coaches Press Conference.  I was fornuate enough to get three questions in to Penn State HC James Franklin and Arkansas HC Sam Pittman.  Below are their answers to my “unique” queries that got a few laughs from not only both head honchos but the assembled media as well.  The phots taken by our photo journalist Trace Crisp that are included in this article will very that fact.
Look for the player interviews later this week along with photos from Team Day at Busch Gardens along with Beach Day and The Battle of the Bands finishing off with our in-depth play-by-play coverage when the Nittany Lions and the Razorbacks tee it up New Years Day at high noon EDT   Enjoy
LH : The movie American Underdog is out now about Kurt Warner.  If they made a movie of your life story, Coach Franklin, I’m thinking “The Rock” for you and Tommy Lee Jones for you, Coach Pittman. Who would you like to see play you?
JF :: Yeah, it’s either going to be The Rock or Denzel Washington, obviously. One of those two.  I’m glad you kind of gave me reference because I didn’t know what you were talking about when you first started
talking. Yeah, probably The Rock. Similar body type, charisma (laughter).
SP : Well, I think of Jack Nicholson. He’s older, more mature, got a lot of gray like I do. I don’t know, I think
he’s made a lot of money. That’s who I’d like to do it, be representing me (laughter).
JF : We’ll take a bunch of softball questions like that.
.SP : Yeah, stay here all day.
LH : You are both at schools you idolized growing up.  Can you tell us what it is like being part of that tradition and now creating the tradition?
SP : For me, I can explain it when we’re coming in on the bus to the home games, you see people walking across there. I was one of those people trying to get into the game, trying to get a glimpse of the coach on the bus, the players on the bus. They didn’t have The Hog Walk back then. Just trying to get in the stadium, feel the atmosphere.  I feel that every single home game. Very surreal, very honoring. I’m honored that I’m the head coach at Arkansas.  But, yeah, I mean, I feel it all the time. I was a fan. I went to camp, football camp there. Lou Holtz was the coach.
JF : Did you get rejected, too? I got rejected at Penn State. I went to Penn State’s camp. I got rejected.
SP :: I got recruited none (laughter). I don’t think it ever got to the rejection part.
JF : I didn’t mean to interrupt, Coach.  Yeah, I grew up just outside of Philadelphia, so it’s
unusual. A lot of times you have the opportunity to be able to come back home. I played in the state of Pennsylvania. I did go to camp. I think Jim Caldwell was the quarterback’s coach at the time. They had a drill, Coach Pittman, where you threw fades. It had like a little target sitting in the end zone. I won that drill. I thought for sure Coach Caldwell was going to come over and talk to me about why I should be at Penn State. He never came over (laughter).  It’s something obviously that you take a lot of pride in. Obviously you understand the history, understand the tradition. I think we’re also both at places that really emphasize the true student-athlete, getting a great education at a great university.  There’s so many reasons that I think for us that it’s important. College football is really important. Being able to win games is really important. But, at Penn State, it’s also about getting a great education, having a well-rounded   experience, being prepared and ready for life when that comes, when the game of football comes to an end.  I think all those things allow for me, obviously being a local guy, having pretty good perspective on what it truly means to be a Penn Stater.
LH : If your not one of the four teams in the College Football Playoff, is there a better place to play than the Outback Bowl in sunny and warm Tampa kicking of f the New Years Day games?
JF : No, I mean, obviously I think both of us and the conferences we play in, the schools that we have from a historical perspective, obviously we want to make the Playoffs, no doubt about it. If not, to be able to
play on New Year’s Day in Tampa, Florida, at the Outback Bowl, it’s a tremendous opportunity.  I know we’re very, very excited and fortunate to be here.
SP : We lobbied for it. We did. We wanted to come here. We made no bones about it. We wanted come to Tampa and the Outback Bowl.  We didn’t know the opponent. We may have tried to lobby
somewhere else (laughter). We wanted to come here. We wanted to play on New Year’s Day. It’s a big deal for us, for our program, so we lobbied for it.