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Time for James Franklin to Show Progress



Here we go again.

After another wet noodle type of performance, this time against Michigan State, it’s time to start peeling back the onion on James Franklin’s progress at Penn State.

Despite garnering solid recruiting classes in his couple of years on the job, those players have yet to translate to anything more than modest success on the field. The Nittany Lions continue to beat back teams that they’re supposed to, but with the regular season coming to an end, there’s not one single win against a quality opponent.

Let’s not forget who we are talking about here either. This isn’t Indiana or Rutgers. This isn’t even Minnesota or Iowa. This is Penn freakin’ State — one of the blue-bloods of the sport that should be eating at the adult table with Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State. Instead, the Buckeyes, Wolverines, and Spartans are eating the Nittany Lions for lunch at that same table, and it isn’t even close.

The losses have been embarrassing. Against Michigan, the proud program got beaten like a wood drum at home 28-16. It wasn’t as close as the score indicates. At Ohio State, the Nittany Lions got blitzed 38-10, and today they experienced a public flogging at the hands of Michigan State 55-16.

Yes, 55 to 16.

Even former players are starting to get fed up. After a spectacle of turnovers, penalties and lack of heart, we witnessed the following:

Ouch! You can be sure there is more criticism coming from the four-corners of University Park.

There’s no other way to slice it. James Franklin is getting a free pass. He’s getting one because of the cloud of sanctions that Penn State is emerging from. He’s getting a pass because there hasn’t quite been enough time to get his recruits totally in the fold. Yada, yada …

But the clock is ticking.

Beginning next year, you can bet that the hall pass is gone. There has now been enough time to start to show improvement on the field. No longer is treading water enough for a program looking to elbow itself into an already crowded room in the Big Ten East.

Instead, Penn State is being elbowed right out of relevancy.

There has to be improvement on the field, and it has to come in a hurry. Not against teams like Maryland, Rutgers or Indiana, but against the top of the conference. It won’t be enough either to just be competitive. Franklin has to get his teams on par and beat one of the big three in the Big East or the whispers and tweets will get louder and louder.

There may be patience in Happy Valley today, but it’s not a virtue at the base of Mount Nittany, and if things don’t get better in 2016, it’s time to call a spade a spade, and that’s a coach that’s been all talk with no results to show.

We are …

How Penn State finishes that sentence is squarely on the shoulders of James Franklin.


Phil Harrison is a frequent contributor to He is also a the founder of and featured contributor to,, and occasionally You can follow him on twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB or email him at If that doesn’t work, you can find him in the doghouse at home.

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