Jethro Franklin's been here before. He knows which way to go on the Harbor Freeway. He knows where the best restaurants are. He knows where the talent is.
Franklin said he doesn't feel lost on his second tour as USC's defensive line coach, and even though USC lost a lot of veterans up front, Franklin's confident the unit can find success in bunches.
Tuesday, he met with a few members of the media. Here is the full transcript.
Q: Have you had to be refreshed on recruiting?
Franklin: (Laughs) Definitely. Rules change. There are a few subtle changes that you have to be aware of, no doubt. That's why you have the compliance people upstairs. They keep you abreast of what's happening.
Q: How did you grow in those years as an NFL coach?
Franklin: It was tremendous. It was great. It gave me an opportunity to be around a lot of different ideas, different schemes and different ways of handling and managing people. It definitely shows you the right way, the wrong way, what you should and shouldn't do and those sorts of things. It's no different than what we all go through as you grow and mature in your profession. You just learn it and see it, write down ideas of what's good and what's bad.
Q: What was appealing about coming back to USC?
Franklin: It's a great feeling. It's an awesome feeling just to know that they want you to come back. It's always good to be wanted, no doubt. This is a great place with good people. I'm happy to do it all over again.
Q: Did you envision this happening?
Franklin: I never closed it off. I didn't close anything off; I tend to keep all options open. This was a great opportunity for me.
Q: How did it come about?
Franklin: The job came open, and obviously, that was one of the first ways it came about. I was still close with (Rocky Seto), (Ken Norton Jr.), (Brennan Carroll) and all those guys — (Todd McNair) and Coach (Pete Carroll). Pat Ruel and I worked together in Green Bay. So, I knew a lot of these guys and had worked with them. It's a good working relationship. I think that's always key. It's crucial, from my standpoint, knowing I was coming into a situation where I had good feel for the guys I was going to be working with and felt very strong about those guys.
Q: When you look at the guys returning along the defensive line, what do you see? Is it hard to evaluate because there might not be a lot of film on some of those guys?
Franklin: You see tremendous talent. You see guys who have tremendous athletic ability and guys who have natural talent. That's always what it's all about anyway. It's our job as coaches to get them in the right position and teach them the right techniques to have success. The group is young, but at the same time, they are athletic. It's going to be learning on the run, so to speak, but these guys are very eager. They have a lot pride, and they understand the tradition. They want to get this thing done right.
Q: Everson Griffen had a reputation for a poor work ethic some last season. How have your conversations with him gone so far?
Franklin: Great. Everson's been great. I have heard things similar to what you mentioned, but I haven't seen it out of him at all. Whenever I come into a situation and are dealing with players, they have a clean slate. He's really been doing the things necessary at this stage to be successful. We're just going to build from there.
Q: How does being here in 2005 help you now?
Franklin: I kind of know the way around, so to speak. I know how to go from point A to point B. That helps out a lot. It cuts down on confusion and gets me where I need to go that much faster.
Q: In your mind, do you compare current players to guys like Frostee Rucker, Sedrick Ellis or Lawrence Jackson?
Franklin: I've coached those guys, and I've coached other defensive linemen along the way. Each guy, I treat them individually. I don't clump those players in with guys I've coached before. Everyone is different, and everyone can be as good as they want to be. We may have better players than those ones you just mentioned. You never know. You have to play to the best of your ability, and hopefully, these guys will respond.
The experience in coaching good players at this level and in the NFL definitely helps. I know exactly what I'm looking for and what I'm doing. I know what it takes to get it done. I stress this with all of them; we're going to be the best we can possibly be.
Q: This timing coming back was pretty difficult because of Signing Day. What was it like having to go to Devon Kennard's house and close?
Franklin: (Laughs) One of the things I enjoy most about coaching, college coaching or pro coaching, is the relationships. I'm a people person. I like to go out and talk to people. I like relationships. That's just part of it. That's just my personality, who I am, and what I'm all about. That was par for the course for me. I can deal with that, no problem. Plus, Devon's a great kid. He has a great family. Just talking to the kid and getting to know him, I just knew it was a matter of time because I know what I'm all about. I got to know what he and his folks were all about.
There were a lot of common denominators in that as well. I know people his father is good friends with. Some of his old teammates are my good friends. It kind of worked itself out that way. It was really a positive situation.
Q: Talk about being thrown into the fire right away. That was quite a battle.
Franklin: That's all part of it though. It's part of what we do. It's just about going in there and getting it done.
Q: Did you miss recruiting?
Franklin: I'll tell you what I missed I missed getting to know the players in-depth. In the NFL, here's a guy. You draft him. Bam, there he is. You may sit down and interview the guy for seven minutes, and then you end up coaching him for two or three years. At least in college, through the recruiting process you get to develop that relationship. You get to know kids from early on up until Signing Day. In the NFL, you go to the Combine, interview a guy for seven minutes and draft him in the first round maybe. How much can you find out about a person in seven months?
Q: Do you have a preference between coaching in the NFL and coaching college?
Franklin: For me, it's all about developing players, making people do what they don't want to do in order to make them who they want to be. That's the same in college or the NFL. I love that part of it, turning young men into work. It's all work, and it's all serious work. It's work where you have to pay serious attention to detail. That's always been my approach.
Q: If at the end of the season the NFL was to come calling again, would you listen?
Franklin: (Laughs) Only for a head-coaching job. Only for a head-coaching job — and I'd question it then. My wife and my family are here. My wife was born down in Fresno. Trekking your family all over the country gets old after awhile; trust me. Moving here to Tampa and from Tampa to Houston, and before that, I was in Green Bay — all within a couple of years. When you have a 12 year old and a 10 year old, it gets old. When you tell them you have to move again and they look at you and start crying, it gets a little tougher to do. It's not all about you as much any more. It's about family.
Q: How do you want your defensive linemen to play?
Franklin: We're going to play hard. We're going to play with great effort. We're going to play physical. We're going to play smart, eliminating mental mistakes. That's really the base of it all.
Q: When you consider where the defense was last year in terms of dominance, how important is it for your line to step up.
Franklin: Every year, that's just expected. We're going to play hard and put in a good honest day's work. The good thing about this game is that it is a team game, and it starts up front. We know that. We accept that. We're going to try and set the tempo early. We'll build confidence. People always ask where confidence comes from, and I tell them it comes from previous experienced success. We'll keep working on things we've done right. When we have success, we'll point it out. We'll keep harping on the positive more than the negative.
Q: What's the plan for Nick Perry? Do you know yet?
Franklin: Yeah. I'm not sure what to say. Watching him on tape, he's a heck of a football player. People will hear his name a lot more. We have plans for him, but we just need to get out there and keep working.
Q: You mentioned getting the best out of players. Is there a balance there where you don't want to put too much pressure on them? Where you don't want them to try and be the next Fili Moala or the one who replaces Kyle Moore?
Franklin: They're going to be themselves. We're not training robots here, that's for sure. They all have personalities and ways to go about doing things. We're not going to take that away. But Coach Carroll is the head football coach. He has the ultimate job of brining everyone together. There's always more pressure that you put on yourself than anyone else can put on you. That's how I am anyways. I accept it, and I'm sure they accept it. When we recruited them and they were recruited here, they knew this day would come. They've prepared for it. As long as you're prepared, what is the pressure? The pressure is to win and play well, and if you're prepared and busting your butt… they knew what the expectations were when they were recruited here. That part of it, they're fine with. They're ready to prove to people they're ready to get it done. They're prideful guys.
Q: Have you gotten your recruiting territory?
Franklin: Nevada, Arizona and California from Modesto up to Sacramento.