[This Monday Morning Quarterback Guest Turkey editorial contribution was originally received as a comment, but I felt that it was an appropriate post for discussion fodder. —TNT]
Ya know, I’m tired of reading how much better Ohio State was than us. Yeah they are a good team, talent everywhere, but so what! Tell me we didn’t control that first quarter on both sides of the ball. Tell me we didn’t know what Barrett and Miller could do with their legs when they came in and why we had no plan to stop them. Tell me we don’t have speed at the corners and at the DE positions to contain the outside. Tell me we don’t have 2 of the best defensive tackles in at least the B1G. Tell me we don’t have perhaps one of the best freshman RBs in the country and speed all over the receiver positions. Tell me we don’t have one of the best QB talents in the country. And tell me why Mahon and Gaia are so much better than the kid that played at Stanford or Wendy Laurent. Tell me why we’ve had the same shitty punting situation for the last two years. Tell me why after 7 games there is no quantifiable improvement. Tell me why a coach risks some of this talent late in the fourth quarter in a game that can’t be won.
My answer is I don’t know. Yeah we can blame Gesicki for dropping a ball and Hackenberg for his inaccuracy, but that unto itself is not what’s wrong with this team. Talent? Yeah it’s young, but we’ve been doing this for seven games this year and the same mistakes are still there. The recruiting class that’s coming in February may be the best so far, but how many of these guys will this staff have ready to play and how long will it take and will we be seeing the same results in a couple years that we’re seeing today.
So I look at two things, coaching and player leadership.
I think Franklin is a good CEO (as he likes to be called). He has the ability to draw talent to this program, say all the right things to the alums, fans and donors and has the right “vision” about getting this program to an elite status. But a good CEO has to have a staff that can translate his objectives to realities and that’s where I think the problem is and change has to be made. I won’t belabor the Donovan issue, but if you read his Q&A with the press (after the Indiana win) he seems like a guy who has gone into a “what do you want me to say” mode about his performance. Check it out here:
We all know Hackenberg’s game still has flaws, so tell me why Rahne (THE QB coach) has not been able to correct his footwork and delivery issues after 20 games and two sets of spring and summer practices. Does he know how? I could teach a monkey to play the piano in that time period!
I’ll give Hand another season, as I don’t think he really has anything to work with, but damn even I got turned into a pretty good OG after one season by Coach Bobby Herman at Kingston HS and that was no easy effort on his part!
I also think his staff knows there is a level of family security in keeping their positions under JCF and he has a personal comfort level with having the same guys around for all these years. With that in mind, his thinking may very well be that if he can just bring an upgraded level of talent to PS, even with the marginal coaching ability he has in place, the “vision” he has will materialize into conference championships and national playoff appearances. I don’t think it works that way! Granted, it would appear Charles Huff is not going to add anything of significance to Barkley’s running ability, but he is by far the exception rather than the rule.
My second performance affecting issue is team leadership. Look at the captains; all nice guys and great students apparently respected by their teammates for their efforts in the film and weight rooms and on the practice field. That’s all well and good, but without emotion and a fire in the belly it’s not the kind of leadership required in a football environment. Listen to them after a game or during one of the weekly interview sessions-they all same the same frickin’ shit. “We’re 1-0 this week.” “We’ll go to practice on Sunday and look at the film and get better.” It goes on and on. I have never seen a team that has had the same pat answers ingrained across the board like JCF’s teams the past two years. Just once I would like to see someone stand up and say we played like shit and it won’t happen again. I also think the captains are picked for their ability to sing the company song rather than get in someone’s face and tell them their effort isn’t cuttin’ it.
So what do I know? All I know is that if there aren’t some staff changes made at the end of this year and perhaps a different mindset used in selecting team leaders, we’re going to have to get used to what we’ve been seeing on the field going forward, even if we consistently get top 10 recruiting classes.
Big Al says
Great summary. I agree with everything you said. Franklin is a great recruiter and schmoozer. But I don’t think he’s a good game day coach. At BEST, I/m afraid he’s going to be our Bo Pellini – i.e. someone who wins 8 or 9 games every year by beating teams with inferior talent, but never wins a B1G championship or upsets a team with better players.
Unfortunately you may be correct.
Saw this a few minutes ago; this is the off-script attitude this team needs more of:
So if Nassib is correct, don’t the coaches notice what’s going on during a game? Are they afraid to sit someone’s ass down regardless of their name or their “stars”.
lando calrissian says
I agree completely with JOEZ and almost all of the two comments. Franklin is not a good game day coach, in fact I think he’s lousy in that job. I’m not sure if there are any good game day peopleon the staff. I also don’t think he’s going to makeany changes with respectto his peeps, so let’s settle in to mediocrity. But as to getting top 10 recruiting classes that overpromiseand underperform, how longcan that last? 2, maybe3 seasons? If you were a talented player coming outof high school and you were convinced you havethe right stuff to succeed at the collegiate level and maybe make the leap to the professional level would you go to a school like this?
Once the talent level drops off and you become a door mat good luck trying to fill 107, 000 seats. You’ve just become PSU men’s basketball. Maybe you’ll sell some tickets when OSU or MSU or Wisconsin rolls into town so at least people can see one good team. I assume the powers thatbe are watching this process. They have to think long term/short term about the football program and what it means to all of us…..the Lion Nation.
What do I know? But I think Franklin has 3 seasons at best ahead of him and I wouldn’t be surprised if PSU writes him a big check and says, “thanks, it’s been okay but we’re looking in a new direction”….andthat might come sooner than 3 years.
How did they ever convince a talent like Bark ley to come to PSU? That young man is thereal deal, I just hope he doesn’t get killed when he’s out there all by himself!
The Nittany Turkey says
Hard for me to make any constructive comments here because you all have been pretty comprehensive in the original post and prior comments.
However, something Lando wrote made me think about Sandy Barbour and Eric Barron. What are they really seeking from the football program? Political correctness and deference to the NCAA? Or an eventual return to relevance? I’m not sure what to believe at this point.
Franklin has certainly underwhelmed with everything except his big mouth. If the squandering of able athletes via crappy game plans and play calling continues, as Lando suggests, recruiting will suffer, and Penn State will be relegated to competing with Maryland, Pitt, and Rutgers for leftovers. The resulting slide will require years to correct, if anyone ever cares to do so.
But that goes back to the question of what’s going on in Barron’s and Barbour’s minds. Surely, they’re not going to be pleased with the negative impact of a half-empty Beaver Stadium for very long. Or will they?
Big Al says
You raise an interesting point. The coaches that State has hired in the last 5 years to coach the mens’ teams seem to fit a similar pattern. Optimistic, cliche spouting, good with the press, popular with their players, but mediocre when it comes to player development and winning games, e.g., Pat Chambers. The only exceptions are Cael Sanderson and maybe the ice hockey coach.
Perhaps the administration just wants somebody who won’t overshadow them (like Joe did to prior ADs/Presidents) and/or embarrass them in front of their follow college administrators. Image is everything and actual results are irrelevant.