A Crash Course In Why Other College Football Coaches (Probably) Dislike James Franklin

A recent anonymous poll of about 25 FBS coaches conducted by CBS Sports had an interesting finding to the casual Penn State fan: Some coaches believe James Franklin and Willie Taggart are the two most overrated coaches in college football.

Twenty-percent of responders to this poll chose either James Franklin or Willie Taggart of Florida State as the least deserving of the credit they’ve received from media, fans, or polling services. Kirk Ferentz and Lane Kiffin of Iowa and FAU, respectively, came in behind Franklin and Taggart with 13 percent of the vote each.

I’m absolutely biased, as I believe Franklin has done absolutely everything in his power to make Penn State an elite program. This leads me to believe that there are probably a lot of personal feelings packed into that anonymous poll.

James Franklin has almost certainly been among the very best head coaches in the FBS over the past few seasons. 

His results speak for themselves. Not only did Franklin improve a 6-7 Vanderbilt team in the SEC to 9-4 in consecutive seasons, he also turned around a Penn State program still reeling from sanctions and a tarnished reputation into a Big Ten champion and 11-win program.

What James Franklin hasn’t done, however, is be particularly friendly to his opponents. His competitive edge probably rubs some opposing coaches the wrong way. What does that competitive edge look like?

In one case, James Franklin iced the Georgia State kicker in the closing moments of a 56-0 game. For Franklin, every play of every game matters, but the world took notice of this particular incident. For example, WFAN radio personality Mike Francesca lost his mind on air about Franklin’s decision to call a timeout while up 56-0.

Franklin made some interesting comments about the game atmosphere at Northwestern in 2015, saying that it’s “a different environment than a lot of Big Ten venues,” which was cause for concern. How is it different? Franklin wouldn’t say, but we can only figure that it has something to do with Northwestern’s Ryan Field having the smallest capacity of any stadium in the conference.

It’s worth noting that Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald was among the most underrated coaches according to this poll.

It doesn’t end there, though. My personal favorite story that shows the somewhat abrasive approach of Franklin toward his opponents involves none other than Pitt. Leading up to the 2017 showdown, Pat Narduzzi played up the rivalry between the two Pennsylvania schools.

Franklin, on the other hand, downplayed the rivalry all week heading into the matchup. After the win, he stated, “Last year for their win it was like the Super Bowl, but for us this was just like beating Akron.” Yikes.

The Penn State head coach drew the ire of SEC coaches for his recruiting practices down south. He even complained about negative recruiting tactics within the conference, to which the likes of Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio denied taking part in.

That approach to coaching coupled with a whole lot of success at a major program surely rubs many coaches the wrong way. For Franklin, though, he’ll let his record speak for itself.

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected].

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