Let's face it, it has not been a great few days for the Penn State football program. Grant Toutant flipped to Ohio State over the weekend, and National Christian Academy teammates Aaryn Parks and Josh Moten decommitted on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. All of that came on the heels of in-state five-star receiver Julian Fleming heading to Columbus.
But, all is not lost. With Urban Meyer off to retirement, the very smart folks at CBSSports.com have named head coach James Franklin the top coach in the Big Ten.
From the article:
Franklin ascends to the top spot, and it makes sense. Meyer took over Ohio State in 2012, but the Buckeyes weren't eligible to for a conference title until 2013. Since then, only two other coaches besides Meyer have won Big Ten titles, and Franklin's one of them. He inherited a Penn State program that was in shambles following the Jerry Sandusky revelations, and Bill O'Brien's unexpected departure. After an (expected) slow start that saw Penn State go 14-12 in his first two years, the Nittany Lions have gone 31-9 the last three seasons, won a conference title and played in two New Year's Six bowls. Now, as 2019 begins, expectations will only get higher.
You have to go back to 2007-09 for a three year run as successful as what Franklin's teams from 2016-18 put together, and 1993-95 before that. The program's trajectory is as positive as it has been in decades as well, with multiple recruiting classes in the upper echelons of the various rankings. As the article mentions, Franklin is now one of just two coaches in the Big Ten to have won the conference, and a New Year's Six bowl game in recent memory.
Expectations continue to rise in Happy Valley. Nine wins one year ago was viewed as a massive disappointment, and blown leads in back-to-back seasons vs. Ohio State, and MIchigan State have lingered in the minds of many.
But for all of the negative press around the program of late, it's worth remembering the work Franklin has done to return PSU to it's current spot, and how he is viewed by at least some of the national media.