We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know – Monday through Friday – around the world of Penn State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
This is your Penn State Wake-Up Call for Wednesday, Jan. 11. Let’s get started.
Was Franklin the victim of ‘retribution?’
Mark Brennan of Fight on State wonders how Penn State coach James Franklin could earn the Woody Hayes Award as the nation’s top coach — as he did Tuesday — and not be honored by his Big Ten peers as the conference Coach of the Year.
While Franklin was designated as such by the media, the coaches opted to vote for Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst. It’s a solid choice, Brennan acknowledges, seeing as Chryst led the Badgers to the Big Ten West division title before losing to PSU in the conference championship game.
But Brennan believes it is debatable as to whether Chryst did a better job than Franklin, seeing as Penn State’s coach led the Nittany Lions out of the shadow of the NCAA sanctions meted out in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
Brennan is of the opinion that the success enjoyed by PSU during its sooner-than-expected breakout year was “getting under the skin” of many of the conference’s other coaches, and that Franklin was the victim of a “petty form of retribution.”
Brennan further notes that The Sporting News named Franklin its Coach of the Year before the Touchdown Club of Columbus honored him with the Hayes Award. He is also a finalist for the American Football Coaches’ Association’s Bear Bryant Award, which also goes to the top coach.
It’s an interesting observation on the part of Brennan, a guy who has long had his finger on the pulse of Penn State athletics. Certainly Franklin’s hard-driving style — some might call it brash — could rub others in the coaching fraternity the wrong way, especially when he and his staff are beating them on the recruiting trail as well as the field.
Let’s also remember that last summer Franklin complained that his program was the victim of negative recruiting, a claim repeated by athletic director Sandy Barbour. Neither mentioned a specific program being guilty of such tactics, though some media outlets surmised he was referring to Ohio State and Michigan State – which he subsequently denied.
Accusations such as those can obviously lead to ill will, and it’s possible such feelings have persisted. As Brennan noted, it certainly appears some larger forces were at work when it came time for the league’s coaches to honor a peer.
Rankings rankle one observer
While Sports Illustrated has PSU No. 3 in its way-too-early Top 25 for next season, the Associated Press placed the Lions at No. 7 to end this season. And Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune has a problem with that.
Specifically, he believes Penn State should be no worse than fifth — that it should be ahead of No. 6 Ohio State on the basis of a head-to-head victory over the Buckeyes, ahead of No. 5 Oklahoma based on the fact that the Sooners beat a less-than-impressive Auburn team in the Sugar Bowl and probably ahead of No. 4 Washington as well.
His thinking on the latter is that the Lions looked better on offense against USC in the Rose Bowl than the Huskies did in a late-season loss to the Trojans.
Collins then takes a deep dive into the rankings, listing 14 voters who either had the Lions in the top five or as the top-ranked Big Ten team, 18 who ranked them behind Ohio State — despite the head-to-head result — and 10 who placed PSU behind the Buckeyes as well as Michigan.
Collins found the thinking of the latter group particularly incomprehensible, writing the following:
This is the group that really, wholeheartedly, has bought into the garbage that (Jim) Harbaugh has made Michigan great. He has not. Talent-wise, Michigan is as good as anybody in the Big Ten right now, and maybe even better. Ask the NFL. But if you’re going to rank Michigan in the top 10 this morning, you are going to straight up ignore the fact that it has won a grand total of one game in the last 76 days.
Finally, there were seven voters who placed the Lions behind not only OSU and Michigan but also Wisconsin, and four others who ranked them outside the top 10. Suffice it to say Collins was exasperated by the line of thinking in both cases.
He concluded by writing that while the poll is irrelevant on its face – there is a playoff, after all – what it really does is “expose the voters who don’t think at all, and just as badly, the overthinkers who can’t get out of their own way.”
One more view of the Palestra game
The Big Ten Network continued to hammer the Penn State-at-the-Palestra angle on Tuesday, tweeting out a highlights package from the Lions’ 72-63 victory over Michigan State in that venue last Saturday.
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) January 10, 2017
Also in the Land of 10
- Four-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey decommits from Ohio State
- Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska breaks the school’s single-game and all-time scoring records
- Western Michigan offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca will reportedly take the same position at Minnesota