Penn State AD Barbour: James Franklin not on 'hot seat'

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
  • Penn State is coming off a 49-10 blowout loss at Michigan.
  • Under James Franklin, the Nittany Lions are 0-7 vs. Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
  • The Lions fell to 2-2 with the loss to Michigan and will face Minnesota at home on Saturday.

The way Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour sees it, head coach James Franklin is here to stay.

“James is not on any hot seat,” she told the Altoona Mirror while speaking to the Blair County Chamber of Commerce WE-LEaD program on Wednesday. Barbour said the third-year Penn State coach is “the right guy” for the program and “doing a spectacular job as a teacher, as a coach, as a leader of young men.”

External “hot seat” conversation circulated a little more after Penn State’s 49-10 blowout loss to No. 4 Michigan last week. Franklin has yet to beat Ohio State, Michigan, or Michigan State (or a ranked team) and has gone 0-7 against the three Big Ten East programs since he arrived. He also has not had a losing season.

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour.

The program has been in “rebuild” mode since the sanctions levied by the NCAA in the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal were lifted in 2014.

"That's part of our reality," Barbour said, per the Mirror. "I know lots of folks view that as an excuse, and I don't like to make excuses either, but that's our reality.

"When Penn State is where we ought to be, where we should be, where we're all striving to be, we absolutely should go toe to toe with anyone in the country. Clearly we're not there. We're not a finished product. I don't think anybody thought we would be a finished product four games into the season.

"Was Saturday disappointing? Of course it was. But no one's more disappointed than our coaching staff and our student-athletes in our football program. So I certainly understand where our fans are coming from and the disappointment."

During his Tuesday press conference, Franklin addressed the feedback he’d gotten after the most recent loss, one that put the Nittany Lions at 2-2 and came two weeks after falling to Pitt at Heinz Field. The Lions take on unbeaten Minnesota (3-0) on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

“I have stated before that there's a process to this,” he said. “There's a process from the time we arrived to where we're going. I think I see strides in people that come to practice every single day, see strides in the people that are around our program, in every aspect, the professors that come as the guest coach programs with us, the administration that's around us, at practice, in meetings, academically, athletically, socially, spiritually, the whole package, there's progress being made.”

Franklin said he understands the criticism and impatience by some vocal members of the community.

“Is there times where we all want the progress to happen a lot faster? No doubt about it,” he said. “But I think that's also what makes Penn State special is there's very high expectations here…But I also know in my heart, every single morning when I wake up and every single night that I go to bed the direction that we're headed, and I think what happens a lot of times is people compare and contrast. Well, it's hard to compare and contrast because of the situation we were in. Who are you going to compare that to? So I get it, but I think it's coming from a good place.”