Penn State head coach James Franklin is up for a major national award.
James Franklin believed in his plan, even when others did not. He kept fighting through adversity and eventually turned the Penn State Nittany Lions around. After a remarkable 11-2 season, a Big Ten tittle, and a coveted berth in the Rose Bowl, Franklin is garnering plenty of recognition.
The latest is in the form of a major national award, the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. Franklin is one of five finalists up for the honor. P.J. Fleck of Western Michigan, Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, Chris Petersen of Washington, and Alabama’s Nick Saban are the others in contention for the honor.
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The award is given by the Football Writers Association of America. The winning coach will be announced on December 15, with the presentation coming on January 7.
Having Franklin’s name on a list with those other great coaches is remarkable considering the way this season began. On September 24, the Nittany Lions were blown out 49-10 by the Michigan Wolverines, dropping them to 2-2 on the year. After that debacle in Ann Arbor, there was a widespread belief that Franklin was squarely on the hot seat. However, athletic director Sandy Barbour came out after that loss and assured that Franklin’s job was safe.
Penn State went on to an impressive overtime win the next week against Minnesota and never looked back. The Nittany Lions finished the season with nine consecutive wins, including the comeback victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.
Franklin posted seven wins in each of his first two seasons in Happy Valley using a roster that was still depleted from damaging NCAA sanctions. Now with a full compliment of players, the future looks very bright at Penn State.
His efforts this season have already earned him the honor of Big Ten Coach of the Year.