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Ben State Football: Franklin's Akron/Pitt Quote An Avoidable Mess

by on September 11, 2017 2:15 PM

In the pantheon of sports scandals of no particular consequence this one will rank somewhere near to top.

James Franklin -- slightly out of character -- taking a massive swipe at Pitt following Penn State's 33-14 win over its in-state rival (?) only to quickly walk back what everyone with ears and a decent attention span heard.

"There are a lot of individual things I could talk about but most important is that were 1-0 this week and we were able to get a win," Franklin said in his opening statement. "That’s what that was for us. I know last year for their win it was like the Super Bowl, but for us this was just like beating Akron."

Of course things aren't always as they seem. Franklin has constantly trotted out the ideology that every week is the most important week on Penn State's schedule. It's kind of silly, if only because nobody really thinks the Pitt and Akron games are equal in all areas, but Franklin gets the millions, so he can do what he wants.

And in the wake of an audible gasp across the media room, he offered up an explanation following the first question of the press conference.



Q. I was going to ask a different question but how do you think people in Pittsburgh will take that?

 "I’ve been saying for two years that each win is like the Super Bowl for us," Franklin said. "You can interpret it however you want. Last week, we beat Akron and it was a great win. This week, we beat Pittsburgh and it was a great win. This win is no more significant than last week. I’ve been saying it for two years…each win stands alone."

So maybe it isn't a burn. Or maybe it is.

And that's really the problem with this entire thing. Franklin landed a Mike Tyson uppercut to end his opening statement and only offered up the clarification when prompted. Otherwise the quote would have sat untouched and unedited and would have been shared just as much as it has been. And unprompted he would have been happy to let it sit that way.

Is there a duty to report context? Sure, and certainly this wouldn't be the first time context has made the difference in the interpretation of a quote. But it seems backwards that Franklin can offer up a quote and just assume that everything he says comes with the benefit of footnotes. Basically, if your quote needs to be explained, it probably could have been said better the first time around, not sent through a codex.

Stretching the idea a bit too far, it's akin to Franklin saying that there is a bomb in the locker room, assuming that everyone knows he means Blake Gillikin has a very strong kicking leg.

Which is probably why he meant exactly what he said.

Franklin is, for all of the things people knock him for, very smart when it comes to messaging. Everything that goes out of the program for the most part goes past him. So the notion he would drop a quote like that without understanding what he's saying seems either dumb or intentional and Franklin has never struck anyone as dumb.

Of course he's never going to admit he meant what he said. Tuesday's press conference will almost certainly involve some sort of explanation that what he's saying is that the Pitt game was as big as the Akron game and as big as the Georgia State game and on down the line.

And he won't be wrong, because he has years of precedent to back that concept up.

But if a coach who is exceptionally good at messaging doesn't like how his words were interpreted, he might only have himself to blame this time. You can't say all the words that mean taking a jab at a team, and then pretend that everyone knows what you really mean. You can't have your cake and eat it too. 

In the end though this entire saga is a new level of dumb. Because this is a football coach throwing shade at another football team and that's honestly the least of the issues we have to deal with these days.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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