Rise to elite status was difficult for Penn State and James Franklin {opinion}

James Franklin’s frustration and passion exploded at Beaver Stadium four years ago.

Penn State lost 27-26 to Ohio State that night, suffering its second straight 1-point loss to the Buckeyes in a game in which the Nittany Lions led by at least 13 points.

It was enough to drive their head coach Batty into making a declaration he remembered many times since.

“We are a great program,” said Franklin. “We lost to the Elite Program. So I’m going to find a way to proceed to the next step as a program.

“It’s my job as head coach. We’ll find a way. We’ll find a way.”

He and Penn State have yet to find a way. As Franklin predicted that night, the road to reach Ohio State level was as difficult as bringing the Lions back into the top 20 when he took over.

Buckeyes are Big Ten’s gold standard and have been in use for the better part of the last 20 years. They are Recruit’s juggernaut, far superior to other conference teams, especially those where he was massively NCAA sanctioned a decade ago. If Ohio State is churning out the top five classes every year, the Big Ten team can’t afford to do his one-off recruiting cycle.

Since Penn State hired Franklin as head coach in 2014, Ohio State has an impressive 70-5 record against Big Ten opponents in five conference championships. Only Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue, Michigan and the Lions have beaten the Buckeyes once each in that span.

Still under Franklin, the Lions gave Ohio State a fit other than a 38-10 loss in 2015 and a 38-25 decision in 2020.

That may be because he tried to recruit players who matched the Buckeyes more than any other Big Ten team.

“You have to feel like you can line up with Ohio State in a week in terms of skills and athleticism,” he said Tuesday. It’s a very different animal that you have prepared. To do that, we need depth and diversity in our human resources.

“It’s one of the nuanced challenges. Especially at conferences like the Big Ten, it’s a little more diverse in how people are built. We’re trying to build teams that can do both, but this says It’s easy and hard to do.”

Since their loss to Ohio State in 2018, the Lions’ rise to elite status almost stalled when Chase Young stopped Miles Sanders 4-5 in the final minute. and entered the top 10 in 2019 after the Cotton Bowl win over Memphis, but then continued its stellar season with 4-5 and 7-6 records.

They started the season unranked, and were widely expected to be beaten by an 8-4 team. After victories at Purdue and Auburn, they returned to the top 10 with his 5-0 record before Michigan beat them 41-17 two weeks before him.

Penn State ranks 13th in the rankings with a 6-1 record, but since an upset win over Ohio State in 2016, many fans have pointed to Franklin’s 0-10 record against top 10 opponents. I keep doing it. at Beaver Stadium.

No matter what happens this week, the Lions will finish 10-2 and are a very good team that could play in the New Year’s Six Bowl game. They’re not in the same class as Ohio, but there’s probably no one in this country, except maybe Alabama and Georgia, which pisses off some fans.

Franklin is dedicated to catching the Buckeyes and becoming an elite. As he’s said many times, he’s aligned with Penn State’s new leadership team, which includes Chancellor Neeri Vendapdi and sports director Pat Kraft.

“Our program has what you’re looking at,” he said. All things you talk about building programs.

“We have made great strides in some areas, but we still have work to do in others.”

The gap between Ohio State and Penn State remains, and Franklin will continue scratching, scratching, and fighting to close it, as he said he would in 2018.

“We are going to get this done,” he said at the time. “I promise you, we will find a way to take the next step.” Rise to elite status was difficult for Penn State and James Franklin {opinion}

Related Articles

Back to top button