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Penn State: What Happened to James Franklin’s Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers?

by on November 15, 2018 5:00 PM

Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers.

Is it MIA or RIP?

For the second consecutive week — the first times in a very long time — James Franklin did not Tweet out his upcoming opponent in repetitive fashion.

You know, the weekly Franklin Opponent Tweet Repeat. (Copyright pending.)

First, no Wisconsin, Wisconsin, Wisconsin.

Now, five days into Game Week No. 11 and two Knights before Saturday’s Big Ten noon match-up in Piscataway, N.J., no neat Rutgers Tweets.

What’s up — is it the end of an era?

Or, is it simply a social media error?

On Wednesday I asked CJF, CJF, CJF where his weekly Twitter reminder was. My thinking: If I had missed seeing it, so had many of his other #229k Twitter followers.

He kind of chuckled at first.

“Ah, that’s a good point,” he said, good-naturedly. “There are sometimes where I control my Twitter and there are other times I don’t” — meaning an assistant will tweet out for the head coach, who had in the neighborhood of 70,000 Twitter followers when he came to Penn State from Vanderbilt 253 weeks and 43 victories ago.

Likely, his assistant sub(stitute)-Tweets for Franklin when it comes to his birthday mentions of team members and staffers (Want to take time to wish a member of OUR FAMILY Happy B-day, hope u enjoy ur day!), the popular #WeAre….Better heads-ups when a recruit verbally commits and other SOPs for his account.

“I think I forgot one week and I think somebody else forgot another week,” Franklin said on Wednesday night. Then he offered a mulligan, jokingly:

“So, yeah,” he answered, “so I’ll go back (and) I’ll Tweet them out.”

The omissions, I told the coach, made him “0-2.” (He agreed.) That was an ad-libbed nod to his other, standard weekly admonition of going 1-0.

The opponent repeat cycle of Tweets and the maddingly simplistic and persistent 1-0 mentions — on Twitter, in press conferences, interviews and his weekly radio show — have been part of his mantra to keep his team and the Nittany Nation focused on the next game ahead. And only the next game ahead. You know, that week’s Super Bowl.

It’s been effective. That message is true Franklin. When he came to Penn State, a lot of things were in a state of disruption. Consistency was key, if not king. He’s worked exceedingly hard to maintain that, internally and externally.


Like most of his teammates, defensive tackle Antonio Shelton says he follows #coachjfranklin — on Twitter, in the Lasch team auditorium and everywhere else. What James says matters, even if it is the same thing. Again. Again. And again.

“We pay attention to a good amount of it,” Shelton said on Tuesday. “What he preaches to us is very important and it resonates throughout the entire program. Everything’s the same. No matter what — behind closed doors, publicly — it's all the same. We all get the same message.”

Did Franklin and his media consiglieres in Lasch truly forget to do a social media rapid-fire of Wisconsin and Rutgers?

Or, had the reinforcing, reiterative and repetitious messages outlived their usefulness and gone to the Merriam-Webster synomatic darkside definition of “repetition” — i.e., monotonous, tedious, boring, humdrum and tiresome?

Maybe, what had once been a success has now become excess.

Back in 2017, during their respective game weeks Franklin Tweeted out 12 Pitts, four Georgia States and just three Iowas. 

Last month, Franklin Tweeted out a total of 29 Michigan States (Mich St, to be exact) the week prior to hosting Mark Dantonio & Co. — hardly a spartan use of his one of most favorite PR ploys.

The next week, after the Nittany Lions dropped their second consecutive final-second gut-wrenching loss to a division rival, he went even further. Franklin Tweeted out Indiana 30 times. The next week, he did 30 Iowas. That’s his all-time record, I believe. (A question for us Kremlinologists: Was the 2018 Iowa game 10 times more important than the 2017 Iowa contest?)


Then came Michigan.

Take Franklin’s last opponent-based Tweet (above). It quickly was debased, when oft-ornery Pittsburgh sports columnist Ron Cook trolled this reply, the very first among hundreds: “Loss, loss, loss, loss.”

And, some of the other 497 comments were equally pejorative. Many Tweeting tweekers pointed out the 16th of Franklin’s 21 Michigans actually had a typo — Michigam— and wrote that it was further evidence of Franklin’s challenges with the fourth quarter.

One particularly perceptive millennial newspaper writer on the Penn State beat suggested that Franklin’s weekly repeating Tweets of opponents had become ratioed — a sign of negative responses to Tweets. “Generally speaking,” says Merriam-Webster (again), “the more replies a Tweet gets over likes or Retweets, the worst it is.”

On the other hand, Franklin’s 21-Michigan salute generated almost 1,400 Retweets and nearly 6,000 likes. So, by definition, he was not ratioed.

So, maybe, what began as a clever treat of a Tweet and a campus-wide catchphrase — who among us hasn’t uttered, “Akron, Akron, Akron”? — had started to defeat (“deTweet”?) its original purpose.

Or, it could also be part of Franklin’s continued evolution at Penn State. What may have been required in the daze of 7-6 and 7-6 and then inspiring in the heady days of 11-win seasons had run its course.

It’s interesting that Franklin’s Michigan, Michigan, Michigan Tweet came at 3:38 a.m. on the Sunday morning after the Iowa game — an indication, to me, that he couldn’t sleep after being all keyed up after the tense victory and that he was already looking ahead to the big game in The Big House.


Maybe we’ll see a Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers in the next day or two.

Or, maybe Franklin will wait to mint a new version of the old saw once a bowl opponent is announced.

Either way, it could be worse. He could cop to trying to finish the regular season 2-0 or stop shaving his head.

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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