White Out Weekly: Michigan St Preview | James Franklin Inks Decade Deal
The 2021 campaign has certainly been a “Tale of Two Seasons” for the Penn State Nittany Lions, and we have finally reached the last regular season chapter. Picture this, it’s Friday October 8th, the sweet sounds of victory music are playing in the background, Penn State is 5-0 with dreams of a magical CFP type season hanging in the balance of a daunting matchup with then #3 Iowa.
Fast forward to now, the Lions have since gone 2-4 (including a 9OT disaster vs. Illinois) and that music you now hear playing, are the literal sounds of the Transperfect Music City Bowl.
Granted, this is a team that has battled some adversity this year including their senior quarterback leaving that Iowa game due to injury, being the guinea pig of college football’s new overtime format, and a gutsy 28-0 home shutout win against Rutgers with nearly 30+ players out due to illness…..including their senior quarterback.
After a disastrous 2020 season which started by dropping their first five contests, followed by the 2021 journey he’s lead us on…James Franklin after deflecting the swirling rumors for the last two seasons about a possible departure, put pen to paper and planted his roots for at least the next 10 seasons…signing a new 10 years 85 million dollar extension.
Now, there’s a lot to unfold here so I’ve decided to dive in to both view points:
You’re buying into the resume that he has built over his tenure at Penn State, let’s start with wins/losses
- 2016: 11-3 (B1G Ten Champs, Lost in Rose Bowl)
- 2017: 11-2 (Fiesta Bowl Champs)
- 2018: 9-4 (Lost in Citrus Bowl)
- 2019: 11-2 (Cotton Bowl Champs)
- 2020: 4-5
- 2021: Currently 7-4 (Bowl Game TBD)
Three double digit win seasons, two New Year’s Six victories and not to mention a top 20 recruiting class in every season with the exception of the 2021 class (#21 overall). Peeking ahead to next season, you at one point had the #1 class (currently #5) headlined by Drew Allar (#1 QB according to 247 Sports), Nick Singleton (#1 RB according to 247 Sports) and Dani Dennis-Sutton (#7 DL according to 247 sports), and barring any surprises, a 2nd full offseason for the offense lead by Mike Yurcich.
Yes these are all positives that Franklin brings to the table and the one glaring opportunity that still rears it’s ugly head is being able to get this program over the hump…but with the negotiations and rumor deflecting behind him, the terms of the deal that will help this program (facility upgrades, student athlete housing upgrades, NIL opportunities, etc.)
Franklin understands what is expected of him in regards to elevating program to the next level as he was recently quoted in his first public comments since the extension:
“Obviously, there’s a next plateau that we have to get to, and I recognize that and am committed to doing whatever possible to help us get there with the help of a lot of other people that it takes, and that’s back to the alignment”
A 10-9 record over the last two seasons, 2-13 against AP ranked Top 10 teams during his 8 year tenure, 1-7 against Ohio State and 3-5 against Michigan. Saying these numbers out loud typically wouldn’t warrant one to say “I Do” and commit to 10 more years of marriage. A master recruiter, there is no record of doubt that Franklin can bring in top tier talent to compete in the B1G Ten, however the one outlier has been the offensive line…and judging by that 1-7 record against Ohio State, the warfare in the trenches has been a clear indicator that those positions are being missed on the recruiting trail.
Multiple 10+ win seasons, New Years Six victories and a B1G championship are all wonderful accomplishments, but after clamoring about “getting over the hump for the last 3 years” there hasn’t been any signs of hope that it will truly happen. Yes the battles against the Buckeyes have been closer than they had been in previous years, but for every single digit loss at the Horseshoe, there’s the letdown against Minnesota as an AP #4 ranked team, this years disaster against Illinois…and the in game management blunders, most notably the 4th and 5 run against Ohio State.
With all things being said, yes this is a 10 year contract that is mightily expensive when speaking of any sort of buyout terms…but the Nittany Lion fan that is aching to see this team’s first berth in the CFP, has to think that if that goal is not reached by year 2 or 3 of this extension, certainly the university won’t allow 7 to 8 more years of agony.
On this week’s episode of Whiteout Weekly, we provide our commentary on James Franklin’s shiny new contract. The Lions travel to East Lansing for the Battle of the Land Grant Trophy, a series that is currently tied 17-17-1…with this 36th edition possibly being the most expensive edition with Franklin inking his new deal, and Michigan State’s Mel Tucker putting pen to paper for a new brand new 10 year $95 million extension.
Penn State will try to finish the season on a high note and give Franklin a sweet victory in his 100th career game leading the Lions. It’s Matt’s turn to try to stump the Croatian Bear with this week’s trivia, as the questions seem to be getting more and more difficult every week. B1G Betting Bonanza enters the final week, with Lucci holding a 3 point lead, we’ll see if like Penn State, I can finish the year hoisting a rivalry game trophy, or in this case championship belt.