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Saunders: Franklin’s Words Not Just an Insult

Saunders: Franklin’s Words Not Just an Insult

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — I have to admit it, part of me loves James Franklin’s comments after Penn State’s 33-14 whooping of Pitt at Beaver Stadium on Sunday.

In his opening statement to the media after the win, Franklin delivered a serious truckload of shade directed at the Pitt’s program.

“I know last year for their win, it was like the Super Bowl,” Franklin said. “But for us, this was just like beating Akron.”

That’s awesome. Because that’s the last thing a team that was just beaten on the field wants to hear, right? Not only did Penn State beat Pitt, it wasn’t even a big deal. Minimize the opponent.

It’s the kind of thing that proves that Pitt and Penn State are, in fact the thing that Franklin is attempting to assure you that they are not: rivals. After all, you didn’t see Franklin trolling Akron last week in his post-game press conference. I highly doubt there will be inflammatory remarks directed at Georgia State next week.

The Penn State locker room seemed pretty fired up about the victory at about the same time their coach was downplaying its significance.

Clairton’s Lamont Wade made a reference to the Pitt coaching staff getting keychains made after last year victory on Twitter.

And that’s great. That’s what makes college football rivalries awesome. Beat your rival, talk some trash in your press conference and make every reference you can to the score of the game for the next 364 days.

That’s what Pitt did last year after starting the renewal of the rivalry with a 42-39 victory at Heinz Field. Turnabout is only fair play.

However, Franklin’s words take on a different context in this particular rivalry, because Penn State has shown no inclination to extend it beyond the currently schedule four-year run.

There are many reasons for Penn State not to want to play Pitt and some of them are good ones. The Big Ten going to nine conference games has really put all of that conference’s teams in a tight spot when it comes to out-of-conference rivalry games.

Illinois and Missouri, regular rivals since the 1960s, haven’t played since 2010. Nebraska lost rivalries with Missouri and Oklahoma. Northwestern and Michigan have each seen their rivalry series with Notre Dame end. Indiana and Kentucky haven’t played since 2005.

The teams that have been able to keep their non-conference rivalries going are the exception to the rule, but Iowa knocking off Iowa State for the Cy-Hawk Trophy in a 44-41 overtime classic on Saturday proves that it is possible.

It just requires two programs that are willing to make it work. So far, the Pitt/Penn State rivalry has one. Pitt has stated time and again that they are willing to play “in perpetuity,” to borrow the pet phrase of former athletic director Scott Barnes, and new AD Heather Lyke has made no statements to change that stance.

But the opposite is not true. Penn State agreed to renew the series in July of 2011, under then AD Tim Curley and head coach Joe Paterno. Paterno died in 2012 and Curley is currently serving a prison sentence for his role in covering up the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Suffice to say, neither of them are talking about why they agreed to renew the rivalry.

But the new regime at Penn State under AD Sandy Barbour, has shown no public willingness to espouse the benefits of playing a game that set the Beaver Stadium attendance record for its current configuration on Saturday with 109,898 people packed into a stadium that is purported to hold less than 107,000.

Instead, they’ve scheduled games against West Virginia and Virginia Tech, two programs that are certainly not moving the needle nationally any more than Pitt is. Their athletic department’s branding is dominated by the term “unrivaled.”

And at the mic stand, unprompted, the program’s head football coach says that beating Pitt is just another week. That’s where Franklin’s comments go from playful rivalry gamesmanship to something else.

This is Penn State telling its fans: “This game doesn’t matter, we don’t need it, and don’t get attached, because very soon, it’s going away again.”

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15 Comments on "Saunders: Franklin’s Words Not Just an Insult"

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You can be gracious in victory or in Franklin’s case to be an ass. I’m not surprised because he’s a jerk. Penn State got the breaks early and made the big plays, but they did not dominate like everyone though they would. When you give up 24 first downs and win, you would expect a better response. I don’t expect Penn State to continue the series.

Noting new at PNN STATE. THEY WERE AGGORANT BACK WHEN WE BEAT THEM IN 1963. Ironically Paterno was an assistant coach and THEY HAS A PLAYER NAMED SANDUSKY ON THEIR TEAM. So Paterno knew him a long, long , long time PENN STATE PRGRAM IS SERIOUSLY FLAUED AS WELL AS THEIR FRATURNITY MURDER.. PITT IS A CLASS ACT SCHOOL. IN 1963 WE WENT 9-1 and did not go to a bowl. WE ENDED UP RANKED 4th Only team DIV 1 that did not go to a bowl with all those wins.. Chancellor stated after our President KENNEDY was assassinated we… Read more »

Two words for you.

Spell check. Must be a Pitt Alum…….

Sour grapes for Pitt fans. Way to go back the the 60’s to make a point. What did Kennedy getting killed in November have to do with football? Doesn’t make Pitt a class act, makes them dumb for turning down a big pay day. Does Franklin control the university? I’m sure nothing bad has ever happened at a Pitt frat. Oh that’s right, Oakland is as bad as it gets so anything involving the school is overshadowed. I grew up going to the Pitt PSU games and it will always be a rivalry in my mind based on shear proximity.… Read more »
Clark Martineau

The Pitt Penn State game was rescheduled and Pitt didn’t get a big bowl offer because the bowls thought we might lose to you. We didn’t. I never thought of the Penn State game as a hate game. But there are thrash like you that would like to make it that.


After reading Allan’s remarks nothing more needs to be said about the ignorance of PSU fans. We rest our case.

Tackle made by Hugh

“Penn State wants to continue the momentum towards national prominence they will need to schedule tougher non conference games.”
The reason you won’t play Pitt every year is because of your wanting to play a weak non conference games like Akron and Georgia St.
PSU Wimps who cares about a 100year tradition.

Tackle made by Hugh

Teams like
Michigan, OSU, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Oklahoma, Texas
Alabama, Auburn,USC, are considered for National Championships
BECAUSE they have a rivalry game. PSU weakens both our teams
schedule by not playing every year.
Are you listening Sandy!!!!

Tackle made by Hugh

FSU tries to play both Miami and Florida every year because it shows how strong they are.
PITT, if it was up to me would play both PSU and WVU every year. That way you double the chance of impressing the NCAA and not hiding like PSU behind Akron and Georga St.
Yes your hiding behind Cup Cakes Franklin!!!

LuAnn Bair
The funny thing is the papers say AMAZING BARKLEY. In my book a guy wwho runs through holes that are there does not break tackles and catches a ball that that hes got at least 5 to seven yards on the closest receiver… is not amazing he is average at best. Amazing watch Tony Dorsett a real back that carried 2, 3 and 4 guys with him all the time. And to the WE ARE PSU chanters – Tell someone who actually cares. God takes care of jerks like Franklin, hope you are prepared JIMMY.

Did you watch the game? Barkley ran straight through 2 Pitt guys for 8 yards on his last TD. Stop posting you are embarrassing yourself.

Pitt is the new akron
Pitt is the new akron

Average beat you like a rented mule


Franklin, once again, shows his ineptness while speaking publicly. Hopefully the Panthers blow the tabby cats out in the last two games left in the series.

David Jones
Since Franklin’s only head coaching experience prior to Penn State was at Vanderbilt he has absolutely no reference as to what a rivalry is, having never been a part of one. Can you imagine him going to Ohio State and saying playing (or beating) Michigan is the same as beating Akron. He wouldn’t last to the end of the press conference. Wasn’t it Tressel who on the day of his hire referenced the date of next year’s Michigan game and they went crazy. I could almost believe him when he said they ‘take ’em one game at a time’ until… Read more »
Pitt fans want a rivalry, but whenever they lose and little bit of shade gets tossed their way…they cry about. Can’t have it both ways. Narduzzi has had plenty of classless moments (criticizing Hack’s coaching, saying Franklin made excuses, and telling recruits lies about Franklin being fired and more sanctions, etc.). And before you are critical of PSU not continuing the series, you should go back and understand why Pitt is no longer playing WVU. It’s for the exact same reasons PSU has for not playing you. So…be careful throwing stones from your glass house. In the meantime, enjoy the… Read more »

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