After the 5-0 start, I think most Penn State fans expected this week to be a much more celebrated week, with the Nittany Lions potentially setting themselves up for a Top 10 finish. Instead, Penn State has a bit of a limp as it approaches the “8-4 best case scenario” finish line.
That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a busy week in Happy Valley, though. Christian Veilleux fired the first shot of #QBBattle2K22, while the head man is *locked into Penn State for the next 10 years.
*If you don’t include Bruce Feldman — at the behest of Franklin’s agent — throwing Franklin’s name into every Top 25 coaching job that opens up every November
1. Veilleux vs. Allar vs. Pribula
Along with James Franklin signing a big, fat 10-year contract extension, the other big news this week was Christian Veilleux’s performance against Rutgers. Coming off the bench for an injured Sean Clifford, Veilleux was excellent, finishing the game 15-of-24 for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns. The stats are certainly nice, but it was also how Veilleux looked. He didn’t have happy feet in the pocket. He didn’t run out of the pocket at the first sign of pressure. He wasn’t “Bolden aiming” his throws. To put it simply, he didn’t look like a true freshman.
Prior to last Saturday, I don’t think most Penn State fans thought Veilleux had that much of a chance being the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback in 2022. No offense to Veilleux, but with the No. 1 quarterback in the country enrolling for spring ball in January, I imagine the majority of the fan base was all in on Drew Allar.
Personally, I still think Allar is the most likely quarterback to take the field against Purdue next September. But after the talent and moxie Veilleux displayed last Saturday, it’s safe to say that’s going to be a knock ‘em out, drag ‘em out battle this spring and into the summer. So folks, prepare your battle stations. Are you Team Veilleux, Team Allar, or Team Pribula?
2. James Franklin Is Back
After the Michigan loss, I wrote that I don’t know if James Franklin could get Penn State over the College Football Playoff hump. Well, just 8 days after that article published, the Penn State administration went all in on Franklin, giving him a 10-year, $75 million contract extension, and increasing his buyout to nearly unfireable levels for the next 3-4 seasons.
Here’s the thing: I think Franklin is a good coach. You don’t go 91-47 at Vanderbilt and Penn State if you aren’t a good coach. But the timing of giving a guy a 10-year extension after he’s been 11-9 in his last 20 games isn’t ideal. But for Penn State fans, this extension wasn’t just about Penn State’s commitment to Franklin — it was also about the school’s commitment to the program itself. Now granted we are still light on detailed specifics, Franklin said his press release that there is a roadmap for improvements in: Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), facilities, student-athlete housing, technology, recruiting, and training table.
I don’t care whether you still ride for Franklin or if you are now firmly on the #FiurFranklin bandwagon — the university making a commitment to get this program competing with the likes of the other blue blood programs off the field is important. Should we expect Georgia-esque level facilities? No, nor is that level truly necessary. But Penn State needs to get to a point where its commitment off the field isn’t behind programs like Kentucky and South Carolina. With this extension, it seems they are headed in the right direction.
3. Five Things I Know I Know Streak Coming To An End
The haters are going to hate to read this! After going 0-20 the last four years on my Five Things I Know I Know predictions, the time has finally come: I am about to get at least one correct. Folks, we are just 0.5 Arnold Ebiketie sacks away from that “0” turning into a “1” AND we are just seven Parker Washington receptions away from that “1” turning into a “2”.
2-3! Two and three! Look at me! What a turnaround! Next year, I’m going to start a new streak — five winners. 5-and-freaking-0!