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‘Wrong Way to Handle It’: Fox’s Joel Klatt Regrets Dig at Penn State HC James Franklin

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 26: Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt during the Big Ten Conference Media Days on July 26, 2023 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN (Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire)

Fox’s Joel Klatt wasn’t a popular figure amongst Penn State fans this weekend. 

Klatt (color) and Gus Johnson (PXP) will be calling the Penn State-Ohio State game Saturday afternoon in Columbus. 

This past Saturday, Johnson and Klatt were in Ann Arbor for Michigan-Indiana.

As Michigan was doing what it was expected to do and pounding the Hoosiers 38-7 with about five minutes left in the third quarter, Johnson and Klatt mentioned Penn State coach James Franklin. Here’s what they said. 

Johnson: “According to James Franklin, Michigan isn’t playing anybody. You know, they’re ‘opting out of contracts.’”

Klatt: “Pretty rich for a guy playing UMass this week.”

Klatt’s response got a laugh from Johnson.

Klatt then predicted that his phone would “blow up,” and Johnson agreed.

For context, Franklin was asked in his Tuesday presser before the UMass game if the College Football Playoff’s impending expansion would change the way Penn State approaches nonconference scheduling.

In short, Franklin said it wouldn’t. Fans that follow Penn State football closley enough shouldn’t have been surprised by this, as Franklin stated in the past that he doesn’t want Penn State to be known for playing difficult non-conference games. 

But Franklin’s words became viral because he mentioned he feels there’s a Big Ten team “that’s buying out of a ton of game contracts that are already signed, to go in the complete opposite direction.”

Franklin didn’t name any names, but Michigan fans took it as a slight at their favorite team.

Some national media also took it that way, and it upset Franklin to the point where he made an opening statement to Penn State’s beat reporters after a Wednesday practice– something he seldom does– to express his displeasure with how his comments were perceived. 

“It can be frustrating and a little sad sometimes when you have non-media members but they have some social media presence and they put something out that is not accurate,” Franklin said, “and then some national media don’t read the transcript or they don’t watch the interview and then they put something out there. Anybody that watched the entire interview or anybody that read the whole transcript, I was complimenting the schools from a scheduling perspective. It’s what we’ve been doing.”

Franklin made it clear that he wasn’t upset with Penn State’s beat reporters.

Two days after Klatt’s comments, Klatt addressed the matter on his podcast, the Joel Klatt Show.

He wishes he could take back what he said Saturday.

“I just don’t like the way that I handled it,” Klatt said. “It was brought up that James Franklin had talked in a press conference about scheduling. He gave a long and thoughtful answer about scheduling, and at one point, had insinuated, you know, there was one part of the quote that he insinuated, you know, ‘we have teams in this conference that are buying out of contracts in the non-conference’ (schedule). Buying out of a tough game to just go play not a tough game because the point he was trying to make is that (going) undefeated is really the goal.’ Not necessarily strength of schedule, which is not what the intent of the playoff was and is in its four-team format at its inception.”

Klatt said Franklin’s “point is correct”

“He gave a much more thoughtful answer than just the quote that I referred to. I want to be transparent enough with you, the listener, the viewer and the fan of college football. You deserve to know when I feel like I wasn’t at my best. What I said on the broadcast was not my best.”

Klatt reiteriated that he doesn’t feel he handled it well.

“Wrong way to handle it,” he said. “Wish I could have had that one back. James had given a more thoughtful answer than that, and in live TV, stuff like that happens. My intent was not to take a shot at James Franklin. I’m here to tell you, I wish I would have handled that differently.”

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