DiNardo: Franklin should have stood up in front of his team and said “My bad”

James Franklin’s poor clock management likely cost Penn State a win against Indiana this past Saturday

The DA Show
October 27, 2020 - 10:45 am
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Penn State lost its season-opener to Indiana on Saturday, falling 36-35 in overtime. Unfortunately for James Franklin and the Nittany Lions, it didn’t have to come to that. Penn State could have – and should have – won in regulation. But it didn’t.

Why not? Because Franklin and his staff mismanaged the clock.

“When I made a coaching mistake – and we all make them – I stood up in front of the team and said my bad,” Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo said on The DA Show. “I didn’t necessarily use that language, but I said,  ‘I screwed it up, and I apologize.’”

If Franklin didn’t do that, well, he should. The Nittany Lions had the ball in the red zone, up 21-20, with 1:47 to go, and Indiana had just one timeout. Penn State running back Devyn Ford took the handoff from Sean Clifford and ran 14 yards to the end zone untouched.

That was the last thing Ford should have done.

“He did have to run a play,” DiNardo said of Franklin. “If you look at the chart, you have to run a play; you just don’t score obviously on that play, and then you win the game. As a coach, you can say two things. ‘It wasn’t just that situation, we missed three field goals, we turned the ball over, and it wasn’t just that.’ Or you can do what I would say: ‘Yes, it was just that.’

"Here’s what I believe," DiNardo continued. "The toughest job in college football on game day is the play-caller – James Franklin is not the play-caller – until you have a situation like that.”

Franklin should have instructed Ford to fall down before reaching the end zone, as a first down would have ended the game. Or Franklin could have played it safe, had Clifford kneel three times, and kicked a field goal to go up 24-20 with about 12 seconds remaining.

That didn’t happen, and the rest is history.

DiNardo compared Franklin's blunder to the 2013 Iron Bowl – the Kick Six game. Auburn beat Alabama on the final play thanks to Chris Davis' 109-yard return on a missed field goal.

“That [next] week, everybody covered that,” DiNardo said, referring to coaching lessons learned from the Kick Six. “You can guarantee that every staff in America covered 1:47, one timeout left, and they’re in scoring position. So unfortunately, no mistake, no learning. This is how the playbook builds. This is how the ‘go for one, go for two’ chart started. This is how everything in football and business starts. No mistake, no learning. But if it were me, I’d stand up in front of the room and say, ‘Guys, I screwed up.’”

With the loss, Penn State tumbled from No. 8 to No. 18 in the rankings. Things don’t get any easier for the Nittany Lions, either. They host No. 3 Ohio State (1-0) this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.