And his constituents are not buying it anymore.
Year two of the James Franklin era has come and gone and Franklin is on the verge of doing something that none of his predecessors before him have done; leave Penn State in worse shape than when he arrived. He has displayed inabilities to manage games, maintain his coaching staff, and keep players in the program. We are not exactly sure when James Franklin became a politician but, we do know that he was already one when he set foot on the campus of Penn State.
Coach Franklin came into Penn State with a bang. We could tell that he was not going to be like the coaches of the past. He brought an electric energy, a plethora of promises, and high expectations. Like many other college football coaches, Franklin displays characteristics that mirror those of some of our most powerful politicians. Walking around in the finest suits, wearing the pin over his heart of the place he is representing, and giving the media nothing to quote other than positive taglines that attempt to hide the problems that are in front of him. It was something that I didn’t notice until this year, a year in which his promises were clearly not being kept.
“107,000 every single game from here on out.” A direct quote from Franklin’s introductory press conference at Penn State. He then went on to start the twitter hashtag, #107kStrong, and continues to use it even though attendance has gone down since his first season at the helm.
After the Michigan loss this year, Franklin went on to say that, “I think in a lot of ways, in a lot of aspects, we’re on schedule. We have a lot of work to do, and we have got to get better. Yeah, is there quick fixes? No doubt about it.” Take that quote and put it into one of the President’s press conferences and it is a perfect fit. After that game, Franklin also talked about the long haul. How they are recruiting players and have coaches that are in it for the long haul. Well, these last two weeks have countered that.
Penn State football is quickly becoming a trampoline. Coaches and players are using Penn State to jump to ‘bigger and better’ things. Maybe this all started with former head coach and now Houston Texans head coach, Bill O’Brien, who left abruptly after two seasons at Penn State. In O’Brien’s defense, he was an NFL coach that was coaching a college team. Prior to taking over the Nittany Lions, he was already being pursued by NFL teams and once you have spent a few years with Tom Brady, you are qualified to be an NFL head coach. I cannot say that O’Brien is the reason for Penn State’s change in status among the football landscape. He hired a loyal staff, most are still with him in Houston, that helped keep Penn State in the spotlight after a dark, dark time.
James Franklin’s initial staff is no more, with some taking their experience from Penn State on to new schools, and some relieved of their duties. Losses, both coaches and players, since the end of the season keep piling up, and there may be more. These include:
|Bob Shoop||Defensive Coordinator||Tennessee|
|Herb Hand||Offensive Line Coach||Auburn|
|Geno Lewis||Wide Receiver||Oklahoma|
|Troy Reeder||Middle Linebacker||Delaware (FCS)|
|Gary Wooten Jr.||Linebacker||Duquesne (FCS)|
|Daquan Worley||Cornerback||FCS (most likley)|
|Christian Hackenberg||Quarterback||NFL Draft|
|Austin Johnson||Defensive Tackle||NFL Draft|
|Adam Breneman||Tight End||Injuries|
|Akeel Lynch||Running Back||Unknown|
While many of these moves are usual in college football, this is something that is unfamiliar with Penn State. Fans here are accustomed to loyalty and stability with their football program and they want a face of the program that will give them that.
The strength of James Franklin and his staff is the ability to recruit. This has been no different as Franklin has brought in top 25 recruiting classes each year. These recruits committed to the Penn State of old and that has since changed. As of now, most of the top recruits have not changed their minds due to coaching changes but, what does Coach Franklin have to sell to these recruits now? “If you like playing noon games on ESPNU and the Big Ten Network, then this is the place for you!” I’m not sure how many four and five star recruits you can land with that pitch.
Does the future look bright at Penn State? There is still support for the players from the fanbase and former players but, James Franklin’s support is diminishing. Something needs to change quickly and it may just happen with a revamped offense from new offensive coordinator, Joe Moorhead, a heated quarterback battle between Tommy Stevens and Trace McSorley, and the rise of running back Saquan Barkley. The defense still holds the nickname of ‘Linebacker U’ but, has been producing top caliber defensive linemen over the last few seasons and will continue to do so under the tutelage of Coach Sean “Chaos” Spencer, who is “trained in the art of chaos”. The future is a little uncertain right now but, let’s let James Franklin finish out his term before we give the final verdict of his impact on Penn State.