What to make of Penn State’s abysmal 0-4 start | Yahoo Sports College Podcast

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Penn State’s terrible start to the season, their loss to Nebraska and if James Franklin’s seat is getting hot.

Video Transcript


DAN WETZEL: Penn State, 0 and 4, absolutely horrible. Yesterday's loss to Nebraska I watched. I am not a Penn State fan. I'm not really a fan of any of these teams. If I was a Penn State fan, I would have been drinking all early afternoon. That is the most frustrating team to watch. They have no quarterback play. They kept throwing these fade passes to the corner of the end zone. Those passes work when it's Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski. You have neither. Stop throwing it. Penn State is 0 and 4. Now there's no hot seat here, but what a disaster, what is going on with the Nittany Lions, Pat?

PAT FORDE: I mean, the red zone stuff was absolute malpractice. I mean, it was 100% malpractice. And you said they don't have Brady or Gronkowski, they kind of have Gronkowski on a college level. They got Pat Freiermuth, who's an incredibly good tight end. He's going to be a high draft pick. He's 6' 5", 260. He can go up over people.

Do they throw fades to Pat Freiermuth? No, they throw them to Jahan Dotson, a fine player who's also 5 foot, 11. You've got a quarterback who has very little touch throwing to a 5' 11" wide receiver when you're trying to drop a ball in a bucket from 25 yards away into a corner of the end zone. It was the dumbest thing I have ever seen. And then the last possession in the red zone, they were incomplete low percentage pass, incomplete low percentage pass. Oh, let's try a quarterback draw, because we've got a quarterback who can run, but it's third and 10, dropped for a 3-yard loss, then an incomplete pass. I mean, it was terrible.

Kirk Ciarrocca, who was brought in from Minnesota, I thought it was going to be a very good hire, he and Sean Clifford ain't making it work. And they finally, they benched Clifford, who seems like a broken player at this point. And brought in Will Levis, who led the comeback. But again, a limited passer. So I look at that team and I mean, it is, whew! They are a hard, hard watch at this point. They have blown games. They've looked disinterested at times. It's a mess.

PETE THAMEL: You know, it's almost like, say, it's a fair question say, what's the difference between Harbaugh right now and Franklin right now, right? And I feel like Franklin has earned a Mulligan here. If you go and you look at their last four years, he's won 11 and 3 of them. Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Cotton Bowl. So bad year was 9 and 4. They just gave Franklin a giant new deal. I think he's through '25. He's making $7, $8 million once you do it all up. Most of that's guaranteed. So it's a pipe dream to fire him, because it would be a $30 million plus deal.

I feel like James Franklin has done enough to show he is capable of turning this around. He's a capable recruiter. Remember, we're transitioning to an era where we're going to start allowing one-time transfers. So you're going to be able to address weaknesses. You're going to be able to essentially recruit the MAC to fill in blanks. And the places like Penn State are really going to benefit from this.

Because if you put out the Bat signal that you need a left guard, you're going to have guys from Bowling Green. Like, you're going to have the best on other levels fighting to go take that left guard spot. And I really think we are going to see college football almost become more top heavy in the upcoming year because of that. So I think there's issues at Penn State. I don't think it's like systemic, you need to blow it up issues.

DAN WETZEL: They will presumably do a little better from here on out. We will see. Iowa's playing very well

PETE THAMEL: That's good.

DAN WETZEL: They get Michigan, they get Rutgers, and they get Michigan State late. So certainly 3 wins, you know, we'll see. A little bit of this has been stacked up. I mean, they started, there's no excuses, but they started with Indiana, Ohio State, Maryland and Nebraska. I mean, I don't know. This is, you can't be 0 and 4, but I agree. There's no hot seat for James Franklin. He is the right guy there, but this is just a stunner.