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5 Things many people are wrong about with James Franklin

Photo by Penn State Athletics

Welcome to our new 5 Things feature, which will be exclusively for our Nittany Pride members. This feature will take a look at one important topic and provide five quick-hitting pieces of information and analysis.

Today’s topic is all about what we think we know concerning James Franklin. Many fans and media say or write certain things about the coach, and sometimes those things are just accepted as truths.

So, these are five areas that, when you consider all aspects, many people are wrong about.

1: Franklin is NOT an elite recruiter: He generally has been a very good recruiter, for sure. But when you hear or read people say that Franklin is elite at recruiting, well, the numbers just don’t back that up. Now, what does elite mean? Well, if we’re talking about which programs in this country are elite on the field, you’re basically looking at only three: Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. So, getting elite status is extremely difficult, because it would essentially mean finishing in the top five at something every year. In the 247Sports final team recruiting rankings, this is where Penn State has finished during Franklin’s tenure:

2014: 24th

2015: 14th

2016: 20th

2017: 15th

2018: 6th

2019: 12th

2020: 15th

*2021: 24th

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*–Class not yet finished

Does anything about those national finishes scream elite recruiter? No. OK, so where does that label come from with Franklin? I’m not really sure. He is an extremely good salesman, and he did do a very nice job early on in his tenure before the program was fully back on strong footing. He deserves a lot of credit for that, and for bringing in the kind of talent that could make the 2016 breakout season and subsequent strong seasons possible. But again, we’re talking about ELITE here. When you’ve finished in the top 10 in the country one time in eight recruiting cycles, that is just not elite. And clearly, PSU’s in-state recruiting this year has been abysmal, with zero commits among the state’s top 10 prospects. We need to be more careful throwing around the word elite, as Franklin is or at least should be fully aware of after he did so in ill-advised fashion following the loss to Ohio State in 2018.

2: Franklin is not leaving for another job after this season: There has been speculation already in the past few days about two different USCs — Southern Cal and South Carolina — and Franklin possibly going there after this season. I just can’t see it, for several reasons. First, South Carolina is a major step down from Penn State. So throw that one out. USC perhaps will always be enticing to Franklin because he and his could family could be in a more diverse setting in Los Angeles. But it’s hard to see USC coming hard after Franklin if the Lions finish up with a really bad record. And it’s hard to see Franklin just up and changing his entire life, and the lives of his wife and daughters, during this crazy time in American history. He has lots of job security and makes a ton of money at PSU, so he’ll be here for at least a couple of more years, if not much, much longer.

3: He’s not going to get fired by Penn State after this season: This is just a preposterous notion

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Written By

Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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