Report: Christian Hackenberg Blamed Struggles On James Franklin In Team Interviews
In January, James Franklin told reporters that there was no animosity between him and his now-former quarterback in his end-of-season press conference. Those remarks came after Hackenberg neglected to include Franklin in his statement announcing his intentions to turn pro. The notion that Hackenberg and Franklin didn’t see eye to eye was thought to be true, but was pure speculation. Now, a report from MMQB’s Robert Klemko shed some light on Hackenberg’s true feelings regarding his former head coach.
Per Klemko, two NFL team officials said that “the quarterback has said all the wrong things in interviews when asked to explain his declining sophomore and junior numbers,” and that Hackenberg threw Franklin under the bus in blaming his coach on his well-documented struggles. Here’s the entire excerpt from Klemko:
Per two personnel sources on two separate teams who have shown interest in drafting Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, the quarterback has said all the wrong things in interviews when asked to explain his declining sophomore and junior numbers (a combined 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions). Hackenberg has shifted blame to coach James Franklin, who took over in 2014 when coach Bill O’Brien departed for the Texans. Said one evaluator: “Despite the fact that it’s probably true, you don’t want to hear a kid say that.”
It seems as though Hackenberg was simply airing his complaints after two frustrating seasons in which Hackenberg regressed significantly from his 2013 form — a season in which he won Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Hackenberg answered questions regarding accuracy with a satisfactory pro day performance, but might have to answer new questions regarding his interview responses with a month left until the 2016 NFL Draft.
Hackenberg served as a prime example of what the consummate competitor should resemble during his college career. He always shouldered responsibility for his team’s performance and never pointed fingers despite baffling in-game decisions from the offensive coaching staff week after week. Now that he’s moved on from Penn State, it seems Hackenberg finally let off some steam.
Hopefully Hackenberg doesn’t experience a draft-day slide as a result of his reported comments.