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Is Penn State football head coach James Franklin underrated?

James Franklin enters the 2023 season known for his strong recruiting efforts and his consistency in terms of wins per season. But would you classify him as an underrated head coach?



Penn State football, James Franklin,
Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) and offensive lineman Juice Scruggs (70) greet fans and head coach James Franklin in the end of the fourth quarter against the Utah Utes of the 109th Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

James Franklin has been at the helm of the Penn State football team since the 2014 season. Before that, he was the head coach at Vanderbilt and was responsible for their first two consecutive nine-win seasons in program history. His passion and desire to win is evident whenever he speaks publicly about the program. But it does feel like he catches a lot of heat for all of the wrong reasons.

The big black mark on his resume is his record against top ranked schools. During his time at Penn State he is 3-16 against AP top 10 teams, that of course needs to improve for the college football community to consider him a top head coach in the sport. To be in the conversation among the best coaches, you need to beat the best. Regardless, it does feel that he catches a lot more disrespect than he deserves.

Coach Franklin can recruit with the best of them

Coach Franklin is a master recruiter, this is a known fact when you consider how well the Nittany Lions have recruited since his arrival. He has a way with being transparent, kind, but also tough when needed. As he said in his interview with Adam Breneman, “I’m not here to be their friends.” Coach Franklin’s able to establish the connection with his players so that they know he cares for them deeply, but when they are corrected, they know it comes from a place of love and not anger. During his time at Penn State, coach Franklin has produced 46 NFL draft picks proving that he can recruit and develop talent.

Penn State football has championship DNA.

Although Coach Franklin may have a poor recorded against the AP top 10, he is still consistent and has many marquee wins on his resume during his Penn State career. Franklin led the Nittany Lions to victory in the 2016 Big Ten Championship, the 2017 Fiesta Bowl, 2019 Cotton Bowl, and most recently the 2022 Rose Bowl. He is consistent from a standpoint of getting the Nittany Lions to the post season and making the most of it. He is someone that certainly can instill the Penn State football team with a championship DNA and this feels like the year where he can get over the hump and go further than his team has ever gone… the college football playoff.

If head coach James Franklin and the Penn State football team can take care of the games they are favored to win and do something that has felt almost impossible in recent years, beating Michigan and Ohio State in the same season he will clear up any doubt about how successful he has been at PSU. I believe that he is not underrated but he is possibly underappreciated. The question is as a fan, do you believe this is the year?

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Former Editor-In-Chief at Victory Bell Rings, Morgan is the current Site Manager for Basic Blues Nation, host of the Basic Blues Podcast, and co-host of the weekly Penn State Roar Room spaces. Morgan lives in upstate New York with his wife and cats.


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