A lot of Penn State fans are upset with coach James Franklin right now.
The biggest criticism people had of Franklin coming into the year was Penn State’s struggles against Ohio State and Michigan during his tenure.
That criticism has only intensified over the past few weeks.
Penn State lost at Ohio State Oct. 21 and lost to Michigan at Beaver Stadium this past Saturday. The Michigan loss, in particular, drew the ire of Penn State fans, who booed Franklin off the field.
But Franklin still has support, and among his supporters is one of the greatest— and most imposing— players in school history.
“The bottom line here,” former PSU linebacker LaVar Arrington said on FoxSportsRadio Tuesday, “is that there’s been this kind of way of creating a narrative where we have to be just like Michigan or we have to be just like Ohio State, and we’re Penn State, so you can’t sit there and say ‘oh, you didn’t beat Ohio State.’ No, that’s for Michigan. Michigan created that narrative. “You have to be the coach that can beat Ohio State at Michigan.”
"He's lost two games all year, and his two losses this year were to teams ranked number 3 at the time. The people that are saying to fire him sound like frickin morons."
— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) November 15, 2023
Arrington went on to point out that Franklin came to Penn State while the program was still recovering from scandal and sanctions.
“The problem I have is that we have a coach that, keep in mind— and it’s been… we’re a decade removed from it,” he said. “But people soon forget that our program was on the blink. And when I say it was on the blink, how we talked about ‘flat tire’ and ‘this, that and the other’ early on in the show. Our car didn’t even have tires. And this man came in and rejuvenated.
Arrington feels that Penn State’s a difficult place for a coach to land talent.
“Like, be clear,” he said. “In a great time, it’s hard to recruit players to go to Penn State. In a great time. Let alone in a dark time where something super bad happens where it stains and hurts the reputation of the University. So the problem I have is, so, this man, ok, he doesn’t have a great record against top five teams.
Arrington also believes it’s unfair to judge Franklin or any Penn State coach based on what they do against the “Big 2.”
“He doesn’t have a great record against Michigan and Ohio State,” Arrington said. “But the problem I run into is, 1. We judge our coaches, and we haven’t had many, but we’ve had two coaches post-Joe (Paterno), and we judge them based off what we do against Ohio State and Michigan.
“Joe didn’t beat Michigan or Ohio State, either.”
Arrington pointed out that Penn State went 0-3 against Michigan in his time there (1997-99).
“I didn’t get a win against Michigan,” he said. “Not one. We didn’t beat Michigan. So stop comparing him to Joe, that’s the first thing. Then the second thing I kind of run into and I get kind of bothered by is you can look at the resources that go into Michigan and Ohio State football and compare them. Just pull the finances and compare the resources that go into Ohio State football and the resources that go into Michigan football to Penn State. You have all these people bitching and moaning and groaning and flapping their gums about what James can’t do and what James didn’t get done and how he needs to go and this, that and the other. What do you think the next coach is going to do? Because he’s going to run into the same issues.”
Arrington than told the cynical portion of Penn State fans to “put your money where your flapping guns are.”
“Stop making excuses,” he said. “NIL, period of time, donate money, do what you need to do so that you can help the team and the facilities and what’s going on resource-wise so that we can get a (Ohio State WR) Marvin Harrison Jr. So we can get the type of guys that you’re looking for. And we can have, by the way, the coaching staffs that these guys are looking for.”
Near the end of Arrington’s statement, he summed up how he felt.
“That main lost two games last year and ya’ll want to fire him?” he said. “You sound like a ‘frickin moron.”