A look at the most important topics from James Franklin’s weekly press conference. The Lions won their first game of the season at Michigan and are preparing to play Rutgers this week. Still, a lot of Penn State fans have been very critical of Franklin because of the poor start.
1: Fans have been letting James Franklin have it on social media this season, ripping the coach at every turn, especially in replies to his weekly tweet about the upcoming opponent: I asked Franklin if he’s aware of all that and how he handles it. He gave a very lengthy answer, starting off by saying he stays off Twitter aside from his weekly opponent tweet. Franklin also said his administrative assistant is in charge of sorting through everything that comes to him, and he noted “she’s phenomenal” at making sure he only sees the positive things from fans. And he said he receives a lot of positive things.
“When we lose a game, there’s anger,” said Franklin, saying it was that way, as well, after losses during recent successful seasons.
“That’s the nature of college football and sports. … (The anger is) something I wish wasn’t the case. And I’m not talking about for me. I’m talking about just in general,” Franklin added. “I remember getting the job and sitting down with Sam Ficken and talking to Sam Ficken about how he got death threats. I get it, I get college football is really important to people, and I get that people are passionate about it. And I get that you don’t fill up 107,000 seat stadium without passion.”
A few minutes later, Franklin was asked a question about what winning does for him. He gave a little more insight in answering that question how the losing and everything associated with it can be difficult. “The wins, they’re awesome, and I love them. But the losses just are really painful.”
Franklin said the team and program are not defined by just what happens this season.
“We have to own this season. We have to own it,” he said. “But this is not the totality of who we are. The Cotton Bowl champs, we’re that. To the Fiesta Bowl champs, we’re that, too. The Big Ten champions. … I just try to keep the big picture in mind as much as I possibly can. But for me to sit here and say that my staff and my players aren’t aware of (the criticism) and it doesn’t have an impact? Yes, yes it does.”
2: What about that crazy batted ball fumble that was ruled a penalty on PSU’s Shaka Toney?: It was a a bizarre call, to say the least, and one that some rules analysts have claimed should not have been made in some social media posts. Toney stopped a fumbled ball from going out of bounds by batting it back in, and PSU recovered. But the officials ruled the ball was illegally batted forward, and not only did Michigan get to keep possession, it also got a first down from the penalty.
“I saw some highly qualified people all over the country saying that that was not ruled correctly,” Franklin said before later adding, “You’re waiting to get clarification and understanding of that call because it’s been interpreted very inconsistently. And to me, the way the rule reads to me is, if it’s if it’s questionable, you don’t call it. That’s how the rule — I literally read the rule myself — and most interpretations I have seen said you don’t make that call.”
3: Franklin wouldn’t bite on a question about whether going to a bowl game is motivation for the rest of the season: The Lions are just 1-5, but yes, they could indeed still go bowling because there are no requirements to be bowl eligible this season. “We’re trying to be 1-0 this this week,” he said. “Even during our last four years or five years or six years, we never really talked about (going to a bowl game). The one season we talked about it was the year where we were ineligible for a bowl at the beginning of the season and then found out we were. But from that point on, we’re just focused on trying to be 1-0 this week.”
4: Personnel updates: LB Charlie Katshir will miss the rest of the season with an injury. RB Devyn Ford should be available this week against Rutgers. Ford missed the Michigan game after a death in his family. Franklin also said he’s really proud of the cornerbacks who played Saturday in light of the fact that the team was down to only three players at that position. “To only have three available, those guys take all those reps and still factor in on special teams, that was big,” he said.
5: Vanderbilt still means a lot to Franklin, and it just fired head coach Derek Mason after an 0-8 start: “You never like to see that in the profession, and this is obviously a tough business,” Franklin said. “But you never like to see that.
“I know a lot of people there. I got a lot of connections there. My phone’s been ringing off the hook. You know about that situation, and obviously Vanderbilt means a lot to me. They were a school that took a chance on me and gave me an opportunity. … So I wish Vanderbilt all the best. I wish Derek, Derek’s a really good coach and had a great career, not only in college, but in the NFL was a great defensive coordinator at Stanford. I know him and his family very well. … He’ll land on his feet. He’s too good of a coach and he’s too good of a person not to.”