Franklin Compares Penn State And Pitt’s Expectations, Adds Fuel To The Fire
For a rebuilding Penn State football program, it’s all about the small victories. One such victory came this morning when SBNation’s top two stories on its homepage are features on Penn State, praising James Franklin’s recruiting and handling of the adversity that comes with the Nittany Lions’ head coaching job. (Here‘s the first, and here‘s the second — a link dump that reiterates the first post, but Penn State-centric nonetheless.)
Ironically, an article about Franklin’s unrelenting positivity contains one of the better shots at another team he’s taken in his time at Happy Valley.
“It’s expectation and perception,” Franklin told SBNation’s Steven Godfrey. “Take another program where we go 7-6. There’s other programs that have very similar records, and because the expectation is not the same at those programs, at those places, it’s viewed completely different. There’s programs within hours of here that had one more win, but you would think they played for a national championship. But again, that goes back to the expectation at Penn State. To me, that’s a good thing. But it’s that lens. How are you looking at it? How is the media covering it? How are the fans perceiving it?”
A team within hours that had one more win…yes, he means Pitt. The quote is in response to Pitt fans sending a “colorful” fax hours after Aaron Mathews flipped from Penn State to play in the Steel City. The fax mentioned the teams’ matchup in 2016, and that combined with a vocal fanbase on the internet prompted Franklin’s comments. Pitt’s associate athletic director literally said that the Panthers are “primed for championships,” so Franklin’s point is completely backed up.
This isn’t the first time the coaches in this renewed rivalry have gone after each other. Their offensive line coaches went at it on Twitter last January, a former Pitt coach mocked Franklin to his face on live television, and Pat Narduzzi went after John Donovan early last season.
Another interesting factoid from Godfrey’s feature is what Penn State assistant coaches have to go through to work here. Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services law applies to all schools in the state, but extra emphasis from Penn State’s Human Resources means that all new employees need to clear extensive background checks before dealing with minors on their own. Matt Limegrover and Tim Banks weren’t cleared by National Signing Day, so they couldn’t recruit without the presence of another member of the coaching staff.
Godfrey also touched on the negative recruiting that Penn State undoubtedly faces from most, if not all, rivals. Franklin explained that some of his staff’s challenges in recruiting are things “nobody else in the country has to face.”