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James Franklin Named Semifinalist For George Munger Coach Of The Year Award

After orchestrating Penn State football’s first 10-win campaign since 2019, James Franklin is once again back in the conversation for postseason coach of the year honors. 

Franklin was named a semifinalist for the George Munger Coach of the Year Award Tuesday afternoon, according to Brett McMurphy of Action Network

Along with Franklin, several leaders of familiar foes are also up for the award’s distinction. Ryan Day of Ohio State, Jim Harbaugh of Michigan, and Bret Bielema of Illinois round out the semifinalists representing the Big Ten, while Kyle Whittingham of Utah is also up for the title heading into a Rose Bowl bout with the Nittany Lions. 

Following the Nittany Lions’ resurgent Big Ten Championship run in 2016, Franklin was nabbed as a George Munger Award finalist for the first time in his then three-year stint in Happy Valley. 

Ultimately, Alabama head coach Nick Saban took home the award’s crown in 2016, but Franklin captured the Hayes-Schembechler Big Ten Coach of the Year and the Sporting News Coach of the Year Award that season. 

Since the Munger Award’s inception in 1989, Nittany Lions’ head coaches have hoisted the honor four times, standing as the most of any program nationally. 

Joe Paterno captured the second-ever Munger Award in 1990, while also taking home the distinction two more times in 1994 and 2005. Moreover, Bill O’Brien won the award in 2012 after leading Penn State to an 8-4 record in wake of the Sandusky scandal. 

However, the Maxwell Sports Club, which oversees college football’s 24 most prestigious awards including the Heisman Trophy, rescinded Paterno’s honor for each of the three campaigns he was previously selected to hoist the Munger Award trophy. In 11 years since Paterno’s firing, the club has yet to reinstate any of his three victories. 

Finalists for the award will be announced on Thursday, December 29. 

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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