State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Ben State Football: Fair Or Not, Franklin And Hackenberg Under Fans' Microscope

by on October 13, 2014 1:15 PM

There might have been a moment we haven't seen, but it's hard to think of a time in his short tenure at Penn State that James Franklin has looked more unhappy than he did following the Nittany Lions' 18-13 loss to Michigan.

His face read like a man who saw a win slip away, and it probably did for a Penn State team that couldn't overcome itself in front of a crowd of just over 113,000. A team that can't come by wins the easy way, let alone when it makes unforced mental errors.

To his credit, Franklin hasn't changed his style of answering questions after a loss. He doesn't turn into a 3-word answer guru, trying to get out of the room as fast as he can. Maybe the fact sanctions are the implied excuse and reality gives him something to hide behind, but whatever the case may be Franklin has shouldered the blame for the only two losses under him while in Happy Valley.

But the media -despite what some might think- has been pretty easy on Franklin. It takes a lot of effort to come out and say that Penn State is 4-2 simply because of Franklin and that Penn State's offensive line is so poor because of Herb Hand. Any time spent around the Penn State football program gives you a very clear understanding of the situation.

It doesn't excuse calling bad plays and it doesn't excuse mental mistakes that could be prevented or communication errors. But if James Franklin could change one thing with the snap of his fingers it wouldn't be Christian Hackenberg's mental game or his assistant coaches, he'd take the scholarships his team doesn't have, and with it, scholarship players.

For Hackenberg, he was able to avoid the post game questioning. Be that his decision or Franklin's, for the first time this season he was able to digest a loss on his own without a microphone in his face. He may have been able to add some color or insight but the mistakes he made didn't need justifying and he didn't need somebody reminding him that back footed passes across the field are a bad idea. 

And for that -and many other things- he probably had earned the right to skip the interview experience for one night.

But for both Hackenberg and Franklin they enter uncharted waters.

Franklin has for the better part of his publicized career, been the man of the hour, building Vanderbilt in the nation's toughest conference. He didn't win every game, but he won nearly every game that the program should have. If legitimately building a program requires anything of its fans it's patience. That was something he received a lot of as he succeeded at Vanderbilt.

But in an age of social media, where opinions are published nearly faster than they are formulated the hurdles and the sanctions and the situation are long forgotten. And as a man who reads his Twitter mentions and absorbs information nearly as much as he coaches (Hi James) there is little doubt that he has seen the anger and disappointment.

Content Sponsor

If there was any evidence that he at least understood the raw emotion of the outside world, a simple tweet was his statement to the fans.

"Trust the Process. Core Values: 1.Positive Attitude 2.Great Work Ethic 3.Compete In Everything You Do 4. Must be willing to sacrifice."

As a man who knows a thing or two about turning a program around, Franklin understands what it takes and has brought fans along for the ride.

But for the first time perhaps ever in his career in such great volume have people have questioned the process, they have questioned if this is really working, they have questioned him. It doesn't matter if they are valid emotions to have six games into his tenure at Penn State. It doesn't matter that he can't grow scholarships on trees and offensive linemen in his basement. Valid or not that's a reality that Franklin faces. The challenge of keeping people on board with the process after decades of success.

It's a reality that Hackenberg faces as well.

The poster child for Penn State's rebuilding and recovery that was going to take the Nittany Lions back to its winning ways.

Now six games into the season Hackenberg has "only" been able to lead the Big Ten in passing and he has "only" been able to craft together two game-winning drives.

There is little doubt that Hackenberg hasn't been perfect and in many ways has struggled unlike he did last year. There is also little doubt that his offensive line isn't helping matters any either. Good decisions are easier to make under good circumstances, and Hackenberg hasn't been given too many of those chances.

Is all of this fair?

It doesn't matter, because in the eyes of a lot of fans Franklin still has to prove his worth and Hackenberg still has to prove he's the quarterback people thought he could be.

Fair or not, it's simply a reality now.

Popular Stories:

Penn State Football: This Too Shall Pass …Just Not Right Now

Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following Penn State's 18-13 Loss To Michigan

Penn State Football: Small Room For Error Negates Positives In Loss To Michigan

Penn State Hockey: Late Nittany Lions Goal Ties Game With UConn In Season Opener

Suspect in HUB Shooting Threat Now in Custody

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
Next Article
Penn State Requests Delay in Producing Documents During Appeal
October 13, 2014 12:51 PM
by Michael Martin Garrett
Penn State Requests Delay in Producing Documents During Appeal
Disclaimer: Copyright © 2020 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

order food online