Penn State Football's Darkest Hour
James Franklin inherited the Penn State coaching job in one of the darkest times in the program's storied history. The Jerry Sandusky scandal was one of the most horrific and tragic cases in the history of sports. The actions of one despicable man and the cover up by university officials, left many to wonder if the Nittany Lions could ever climb back from the depths of NCAA Football Hell. Below are the sanctions handed out by the NCAA, per New York Times.
"The N.C.A.A. announced significant penalties against Penn State and its football program Monday, including a $60 million fine and a four-year postseason ban, in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandal involving the former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
The N.C.A.A. stopped short of shutting down Penn State’s program, but officials insisted that the breadth and significance of the penalties were nearly as debilitating. It is expected to be almost a decade before Penn State will be in a position to attempt to regain its place as one of the sport’s elite programs.
The punishment also included the loss of 10 scholarships per year for the next four years, with a limit of 65 total scholarship players on the roster, as opposed to the typical 85, for four years beginning with the 2014 season. The university must also vacate all its victories from 1998 to 2011, meaning that Joe Paterno is no longer the major-college career leader in football coaching wins. The university was also placed on probation for five years."
"In announcing the penalties, Mark Emmert, the N.C.A.A. president, called the case the most painful “chapter in the history of intercollegiate athletics,” and said it could be argued that the punishment was “greater than any other seen in N.C.A.A. history.”
Coach Bill O'Brien
Coach O'Brien really inherited the mess from the Sandusky fall out, after Joe Paterno was fired and was named the 15th head football coach at Penn State University. Bill O'Brien started a re-building project and after the 2012 season in which the Nittany Lions went 8-4, was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. A record of 8-4 normally does not get you this award in college football today, but with the intense scrutiny and pressure that came with this particular job, Coach O'Brien did masterfully in his first season. His name then started popping up for NFL head coaching jobs. After interviewing with multiple teams, O'Brien stated, "I’m not a one-and-done guy. I made a commitment to these players at Penn State and that’s what I am going to do. I’m not gonna cut and run after one year, that’s for sure."
Coach O'Brien shortly after replaced Gary Kubiak as the Houston Texans head coach, leaving Penn State in shock and very unsure of the future of the Penn State football program.
Coach James Franklin - The Man For The Job
Coach Franklin's football roots start in the state of Pennsylvania, where he was born in Langhorne, PA and played QB for four years at the University of East Stroudsburg. Franklin was a PSAC legend, as he set 7 school passing records and was a D2 football player of the year nominee. Franklin started his coaching career in the PSAC at Kutztown University and a long career as an assistant coach and recruiting master found him as the head football coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores. Coach Franklin was able to lead the Commodores to 3 straight bowl appearances and two top 25 nationally ranked seasons, before being named the 16th head football coach at Penn State University. He has coached under as much scrutiny as Coach O'Brien did and relished the adversity in re-building the historic Penn State Nittany Lions back to national prominence. In his first two seasons he went 7-6, and the Penn State offense sputtered out time and time again, as this was a daunting task with the stigma of Big Ten play. But the recruiting extraordinaire was able to land athletes like Saquon Barkley and Walter Camp Award Watch List QB Trace McSorley who have been able to perform remarkably under Coach Franklin's tut-ledge. After two 11-win seasons and only missing the BCS playoffs by a few points in a one point loss against Ohio State (39-38) and a 27-24 loss on a last second field goal to Michigan State. So, are the Nittany Lions in a re-building year again or will we see improvement under the very impressive Coach James Franklin?
What to Expect from the 2018 Penn State Nittany Lions?
Trace McSorley has thrown at least one touchdown pass in his last 28 games and with the departure of some key components to last years offense, will look to Miles Sanders to produce in the running game. This will open up the passing game so McSorley can find returning receivers Thompkins and Johnson downfield for big plays. Justin Shorter who is a prolific 5-Star Receiver, will look to make a early impact for the Lions, as he headlines a top 5 national recruiting class that makes the future even brighter in happy valley. With the Penn State offensive line returning 5 players with at least 9 games of playing experience from the years prior, McSorley should have a successful "Heisman hopeful" type of season if the Lions stay healthy in tenacious Big Ten play. The Penn State defense had over 30 players contribute at least 5 tackles last season and Coach Pry loves to keep his defensive units fresh. This philosophy has the Lions looking very strong up front, as they return 9 of the 12 d-linemen from last season and have a plethora of options to look to in their solid linebacker core. Their defensive backs will be tested at home against Ohio State, as the Buckeyes will be looking to air it out in Happy Valley. If the Lions can run the table and make it to Michigan with anbh unblemished record, we could be looking at a historic match-up and season for the Penn State Nittany Lions and one Coach Franklin will cherish for the rest of his young career.
"To completely restore, in a sense, Joe Paterno's heretofore pristine reputation, I regret that," Boni said. "He did a world of good, but he made a huge, huge error in judgment in helping cover up Sandusky's pedophilia, and even posthumously I think that has to be recognized." Michael Bono (Attorney of victim in case)
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