You see the handshake pictured above between James Franklin and Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi?
Yeah, around 11 p.m. on Saturday night as Franklin was challenging a fumble by freshman running back Ricky Slade (he was down) up 51-6 with just over a minute to play against the Panthers, I was convinced that handshake wasn’t going to happen.
You see, Franklin has not been shy about his penchant for running up the score, preserving shutouts, and returning the favor a bit if he feels he’s been previously wronged.
We saw it in 2016 when the Nittany Lions kept the hammer down against Michigan State after Sparty embarrassed PSU in East Lansing the year prior.
We saw it again less than a year later when Franklin took a late timeout to ice Georgia State’s kicker up 56-0 late in the contest.
And then we saw in against on Saturday, as third-string quarterback Sean Clifford launched a play-action pass for a touchdown late in the game up 44-6 ahead of Slade fumble challenge.
James Franklin has made it very, very clear. He’s going to score as many points as possible and do everything in his power to keep your team from scoring.
This has upset some.
Opposing fans have displayed their anger. Beat writers and columnists have complained about a lack of class, and even some Penn State fans have voiced their displeasure.
To which I’m here to tell you: James Franklin doesn’t care about care your feelings.
Since his first day at the helm of the Nittany Lions and his memorable opening press conference, Franklin has made his intentions clears. He wants to win football games, recruit at the highest level, graduate players and return the Nittany Lions to the top of the college football hierarchy.
None of these things involve letting his foot off the gas in games that are out of hand.
Particularly, Franklin has shown a penchant for “getting back” at coaches he feels may have wronged Penn State.
(Looking at you, Dantonio and Narduzzi).
The reality of the situation is that in a time where subjective polls determine so much of the way college football championships are determined, dominance matters.
Fans know this. Players know this, and most importantly James Franklin knows this.
Until that changes, or until somebody can do something to stop, Franklin is going to continue to run up the score. And he’s going to ignore your hurt feelings in the process.