In Week 11, Penn State lost to Michigan at Beaver Stadium. It’s the same story every year for James Franklin. He just can’t get over the hump in the Big Ten East to make the College Football Playoff.
The Nittany Lions aren’t the only team that’s hung around the top 10 since the start of the College Football Playoff, but never broken through into the top four. Franklin’s seat is certainly getting warm, but he and others will be saved by the expanded playoff starting next season.
The 12-team playoff finally gives hope to teams other than Georgia, Alabama, Ohio State, and Michigan, the perennial powerhouses, and it might convince a few athletic directors and boosters to stick with their current coach instead of moving on in search of greener pastures.
These are the five coaches most thankful for the expanded playoff.
James Franklin, Penn State
In James Franklin’s 10 seasons at Penn State, he’s beaten everyone except the two teams that matter. Franklin is 1-9 against Ohio State and 3-7 against Michigan. On Saturday, Franklin didn’t even lose to Jim Harbaugh, he lost to Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator, Sherrone Moore who was the acting head coach.
Moore only had JJ McCarthy attempt one pass in the entire second half. Penn State was flagged for pass interference on that play, so it didn’t count as a pass attempt. An assistant coach beat James Franklin without throwing the ball the entire second half.
Yet, if there were a 12-team playoff from the inception of the CFP, then Penn State and Franklin would have made it five times.
It’s clear that Franklin doesn’t have the talent or the coaching chops to get Penn State past the powers that be in the Big Ten. Still, nobody would be complaining about five CFP appearances in 10 seasons, so Franklin’s massive contract extension that runs through 2031 isn’t the only reason he’ll hold his job for at least another year.