I always think about how my life would have been different had I not been born in Pennsylvania. I wouldn’t have a weird knowledge of trains. I probably wouldn’t have consumed thousands of pounds of french fries on my salads and sandwiches.
And most of all, I probably wouldn’t have been a Penn State fan. In fact, when I was headed off to college, this was a conversation that my mom and I had. I could have been an Ohio State fan if I was born in Ohio, she remarked.
I don’t know if I fully believe in alternate realities but let’s say in an alternate reality everything else was the same, except I was born in Woodward, Oklahoma and was a die-hard-fan-later-turned-graduate of Oklahoma University.
Boy, would I not be happy right now.
But this column isn’t about the angry Boomer Sooner Somers, furious that his alma mater’s head football coach just darted to sunny California for a better opportunity and more money. It’s about present-day Darian whose alma mater still has the same head coach.
Penn State fans, especially for those who have questioned the decision to extend James Franklin, should be thanking their lucky stars they weren’t born in Oklahoma, raised as Sooner fans because that is one mess of a program I would not want to be a fan of right now.
When Lincoln Riley darted for USC, he created a situation in Norman that no Oklahoma fan would want. Commits have become decommits and a school now looking for a new, top-end football coach.
A coach that seemingly was going to lead them to a national championship gone like the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis.
Yet, a vocal group of Penn Staters has questioned whether or not Franklin’s extension was worth it. Yes, 2020 and 2021 were not up to Franklin’s expectations. They weren’t up to my expectations. They weren’t up to anyone’s expectations.
But that doesn’t mean Franklin, who took scholarship-deprived Penn State and made them a Big Ten champion, won two NY6 Bowls and helped Micah Parson, Odafe Oweh, Saquon Barkley and Chris Godwin to name a few become elite NFL talent, isn’t the right guy for the job.
Honestly, who do you want that’s better that is realistic with how stingy Penn State is with its coaching budget at times?
More importantly, would you really honestly — actually think about this for a second — rather have the situation in Oklahoma right now?
It’s virtually a program reset.
And if Riley is reportedly getting paid north of $100 million, USC very well could have put that offer on the table for Franklin. If there was ever an offer on the table or even thought about by either USC or Franklin, Penn State fans should be praising their favorite deity that it didn’t happen.
It’s a virtual program reset that Penn State avoided because Franklin was patient and Penn State listened.
By no means does this mean that Franklin can just walk through the next 10 years because he got this deal. He knows he has to win. We all know he has to win and win big. But I don’t think he would have taken the Penn State extension if he didn’t think he could.
So let’s live in the reality of this: Penn State still has its head football coach. Oklahoma does not. One of those situations is significantly better than the other.