Dominate the state. That is the motto new Penn State head coach James Franklin has been selling since his first press conference in Happy Valley. After putting together a solid Class of 2014 in his short time at Penn State, Franklin and his coaching staff have already lined up five of the top 15 players from the state of Pennsylvania for the Class of 2015, highlighted Thursday with the verbal commitment of running back Andre Robinson, from a Bishop McDevitt High school program in Harrisburg that has traditionally been rich in talent that goes away from Penn State. Whatever Franklin and his staff are doing at Penn State seems to be working.
Franklin and his staff have already been breathing new life in to a program still in recovery mode. The staff has embraced social media and is reaching out to fans and delivering a unified message. The coaches are also getting involved in their new surroundings. Just last weekend coaches checked out the record-breaking THON dance marathon on Penn State’s campus. For a football program that for years was stuck in old-fashioned methods, Franklin and his staff are embracing it and utilizing them to their advantage.
For decades now, Penn State has been considered a bit of a sleeping giant. Instead of the powerhouse that was expected to compete for Big Ten titles on an annual basis, the Nittany Lions have won just three Big Ten titles since joining the conference in 1993. The scandal that rocked the university and community in November 2011 may have helped derail a bid for a fourth conference title, and the fallout was expected to be much more severe.
Penn State was supposed to be a program leveled by NCAA sanctions in 2012, but Bill O’Brien managed to keep the program afloat, and Franklin appears set to have the program competing at a high level when an NCAA postseason ban is lifted in two more seasons, if not before. Franklin is aided by the NCAA giving back some lost scholarships, and the new head coach is capitalizing on that. With two years remaining on the postseason ban, Franklin is guiding the program to the end of the tunnel. While the university could take longer to regroup, and the healing process as a whole will continue on, as far as football is concerned it looks as though Franklin is in a good position to do some damage.
Penn State is not quite awake from sleeping giant status yet, but the alarm is about to go off.
Earlier this month, former Hawaii head coach June Jones would indeed apply for the opening with the Rainbow Warriors. Three weeks later, not surprisingly, Jones is decidedly in the mix.
Citing sources familiar with the process, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is reporting that Jones is one of five coaches who have interviewed for the job. In addition to Jones, the others who were given one-hour interviews were former Army head coach Rich Ellerson, current UH football analyst Rich Miano, Tulsa co-defensive coordinator Brian Norwood and current Nevada offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich. All four of those candidates, as well as Jones, played their college football for the Rainbow Warriors.
The Star-Advertiser writes that “[b]arring a late addition, they would be the only finalists interviewed by athletic director David Matlin and his advisory panel.”
The 62-year-old Jones, of course, was the head coach at Hawaii for nearly a decade and led the Rainbow Warriors to its winningest stretch in the program’s history.
From 1999-2007, UH went 76-41 under Jones. Prior to Jones’ arrival, the Rainbow Warriors won nine or more games four times and 10-plus once the previous 28 years; in Jones’ nine seasons, they won nine-plus six times and 10-plus in three seasons. The pinnacle of his career at the island school was his last season as he led UH to a 12-1 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2007.
He left for SMU in January of the following year and went 36-43 with the Mustangs before abruptly resigning two games into his seventh season at the school in 2014.
Weather could have an impact on one key Big 12 game Saturday. It’s already having an impact on one Saturday.
The game between No. 7 Baylor and No. 19 TCU in Fort Worth had been scheduled to kick off around 7:30 ET this evening. However, lightning in the area has caused the start time to be pushed back.
As of this posting, kickoff is scheduled for 8:20 ET.
While TCU has already been eliminated from the Big 12 chase, Baylor remains very much alive. If BU beats TCU and Oklahoma State defeats Oklahoma in Bedlam tomorrow, the Bears will be the Big 12 champion for College Football Playoff committee accounting purposes.
If the Sooners win this weekend, they would be the conference champs regardless of what the Bears do tonight and next weekend. The Cowboys can make its claim if it wins Bedlam and the Bears lose at least one of its last two games.
“Oh what could’ve been.”
That has to be the mantra — well, that and “that escalated quickly” — of the Oregon football program and its fan base this evening after watching the Ducks jump out to a huge lead and then hang on against in-state rival Oregon State in a wild 52-42 Civil War win Saturday. The Ducks had sprinted to what appeared to be a comfortable 31-7 halftime lead before the Beavers scored 35 of the next 45 points to pull within three points at 45-42 with 7:05 remaining.
A Vernon Adams touchdown pass two and a half minutes later, his third of the game, essentially iced the game for the Ducks.
And, speaking of Adams, that’s where the what-ifs come in.
The FCS All-American transfer from Eastern Washington was viewed as a more-than-capable replacement for Heisman winner Marcus Mariota entering the season. However, he was injured early on as the Ducks stumbled to a 3-3 start that included a three-point loss to Michigan State and seven-point loss to Washington State, both on the road. Adams finally overcame the health issues in mid-October and the Ducks have rolled ever since, ripping off six straight wins to close out the regular season.
During this six-game streak, Adams has thrown 21 touchdown passes; in the first six games of the season, three of which he missed, Adams threw four. Throw in the fact that he’s completed nearly 80 percent of his passes the past three weeks — 77.3 to be precise — Adams is one of the hottest quarterbacks in the country entering the final weeks of his one and only season in Eugene.
If Adams had been healthy the first-half of the season, could it have changed the direction of the season? It’s hard to say with any degree of certainty, although the odds seem pretty good that UO wouldn’t be sitting at 9-3 and looking at a middle(ish)-tier bowl bid if he had been his late-season self.
Washington State came into Saturday’s Apple Cup without prolific quarterback Luke Falk because of injury. They’ve now exited it without Falk’s top target because of the same issue.
Late in the fourth quarter of No. 20 Wazzu’s 45-10 loss to Washington, Gabe Marks was on the receiving end of a five-yard pass from first-time starter Peyton Bender. The wide receiver was also on the receiving end of an awkward tackle that bent his ankle in a way that God never intended and left him with what could very well be broken bones in the leg.
Marks was carted off the field and did not return. There has been no update on the specific nature of the injury, although it appears that it may be serious enough to keep the junior from playing in the Cougars’ bowl game.
Coming into Week 13, Marks was fourth in the nation with 92 receptions and, with 1,067, is one of 19 players who have gone past 1,000 yards receiving.
And, to add scoreboard insult to literal injury, Marks’ fumble was returned by the Huskies for a touchdown. That was the second of three defensive touchdowns for UW, with the third coming on Wazzu’s very next play from scrimmage on a pick-six.
The win pushed the Huskies to 6-6 and into a bowl in the second season under Chris Petersen. The head coach just yesterday was awarded a two-year contract extension.