The great thing about college football is the wide array of fans. I’ve met all sorts of Penn State fans, and I don’t just mean in terms of demographics. Fans that think Franklin is the best thing to happen to Penn State, those that think he can only recruit and not coach, and those that think he’s flat out terrible.
A coworker of mine is somewhere in the middle, and his concern is that Penn State is going to be stuck in the 11-2 to 9-4 range indefinitely. His concerns are that Franklin can recruit, but his clock management and in-game coaching decisions will allow games like Ohio State and Michigan State (both 2017 and 2018) to happen.
His concern is that these issues will continue to materialize, and even in years when we can catch Ohio State “down,” we’ll trip up somewhere or other, and be stuck in a scenario that we bounce back and forth between New Years Six, and the Citrus or Outback Bowls. Or, perhaps, we catch a break and make the playoffs, but get blown out a la Michigan State 2015.
So what do you think? Has Penn State peaked under James Franklin?
Personally, I think the best is yet to come for the Nittany Lions. First and foremost in college football, recruiting determines who wins and loses. In case you haven’t noticed, Franklin has been recruiting like gangbusters. Each year we a) increase our own blue chip ratio and b) close the talent gap on Ohio State. Additionally, Franklin has made a lot of really good coaching hires - every single one may not have been a home run, but he’s hit a lot more than he’s missed.
If there’s one thing that I think could hold back Penn State, it’s money. The athletic department has been slow to pay coaches, and secure funding for upgraded facilities. When the big dogs like Clemson and Bama are coming out with state of the art facilities and paying their assistants millions of dollars, on top of amazing recruiting, it’s no surprise that they’re always in the playoffs.
If Sandy Barbour - or whoever the athletic director is - can step up the funding, Penn State is easily a top 10 program, and makes the playoffs at worst every 2-3 years in my opinion. What do you think?