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James Franklin Won’t Shift Focus Toward Officiating

It’s safe to say Penn State football hasn’t got the fairest rap from the officials in recent weeks, but that isn’t impacting James Franklin’s mentality going forward.

The Nittany Lions only averaged three penalties through their first three games of the season, but things have changed from that standpoint in recent weeks. Penn State was flagged seven times against Maryland, four times against Purdue, and five times against Michigan. The team’s game against Iowa was an officiating atrocity from John O’Neill, who called eight penalties that cost Penn State 80 yards. In contrast, the Hawkeyes were flagged just once.

Although he might have plenty of reasons to complain, Franklin won’t let the officials dictate his mindset and focus throughout the rest of this season.

“The thing I’m not going to do is come in after a game and talk about penalties and the impact that they had,” Franklin said at his weekly press conference Tuesday. “The officials have a very tough job to do. Each week, there are going to be calls our opponent doesn’t like, and there will be calls we don’t like.”

Usually, Franklin doesn’t give too much of a reason for why he declines to discuss certain topics during media availabilities — and that’s fair. However, he provided an interesting reason why he doesn’t want to get into the whole complaining-about-officials business.

“I’m going to try to avoid doing that and be respectful of the process and be respectful of the officials,” Franklin said. “But also, I think it sends the wrong message to my team. I’m not going to come in after a game and talk about calls or officials.”

Penn State’s sixth-year head coach was slightly less diplomatic about the officiating immediately after the Iowa game. Franklin was critical when asked about the referees’ decisions and the fact that the Big Ten didn’t explain Pat Freiermuth’s non-touchdown, but he didn’t expand much beyond that.

“The thing that was really interesting is that we’re one of the least-penalized teams in the country,” he said on October 12 following the Iowa game. “We come in here tonight, and it didn’t play out that way. I’ll just leave it at that…I’d love to have a lengthy conversation about this. I know our fans want me to have a lengthy conversation about this. It’s not going to do anything. We’re going to enjoy the win and focus on the things we can control.”

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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