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Friday December 9 2022
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Another New Era

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It is a new era for Penn State football: another new coach, and a fan base desperately trying to move on. The NCAA sanctions are, at worst, half over. It appears that Bill O’Brien accomplished more than winning 15 games in two years; otherwise James Franklin wouldn’t be the new coach.

Has Penn State solved its image problem? Some will argue Yes; see James Franklin hire. Some will argue the reclamation project is far from over, and James Franklin is just the next guy to help it along.

Either way, Nittany Nation is in a new era: the James Franklin era.

Does he have baggage? Sure, but then again—in this cesspool of a business—who doesn’t? Alabama’s Nick Saban had four players arrested in the weeks following his 2012 National Title. In 2010, The Orlando Sentinel compiled a list of 31 arrests, involving 25 different players, while Urban Meyer was Florida’s head coach. Since, eight more players have been arrested since Meyer took over at Ohio State.

Perception is reality, kind of.

The reality is that major college football is a dirty business, where the NCAA markets amateur athletes, where both the NCAA and universities make huge profits from television deals, where coaches constantly jump ship. And where players are getting second and third chances while reading at a fourth grade level.

The sooner people come to terms with what it is, the better off we will all be.

This brings us back to Penn State and James Franklin, and their efforts to move beyond the awful actions of Jerry Sandusky.

Whether or not Jerry Sandusky ever committed a crime, the guy who replaced Joe Paterno was bound to struggle filling Paterno’s sizable shoes. And Bill O’Brien did a wonderful job.  The reality, though, is that Sandusky’s horrific actions actually made it a hell of a lot easier on Paterno’s successor: everyone wanted to distance themselves from the Paterno era.

Almost everyone. 

The mainstream media loved Joe Paterno when he was a hero. They love him even more now that they have made him a villain. The same media that demanded Paterno be fired—before having any factual evidence of his role in the Sandusky scandal—now want to tell us that Franklin can’t be the new guy?

I’d think that Penn State, especially considering the circumstances, would have done their homework on Franklin. The world can be a bad place. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and sometimes people who appear to good people are in fact not.

So Paterno is a villain. Franklin can coach at Vanderbilt but not at Penn State. Jameis Winston is allowed to orchestrate arguably the best drive in college football history. The explanation as to why some get a pass, yet others don’t, is an answer I don’t have.

In the last 18 months or so, David Jones of PennLive.com has made the term “Joe Bot” famous.  I’m not sure what exactly a “Joe Bot” is, but I can tell you this: neither Franco Harris nor the average Joe Bot will have much success getting Paterno his job back.

This is a wide web I’ve cast, trying to circle back from one tangent to another. And for a good reason. One doesn’t have anything to do with the other.

Joe Paterno is dead. James Franklin is the new football coach at Penn State. My questions to you:

Isn’t the criminal in jail?

Aren’t the actors in the alleged cover-up facing trial?

Didn’t the NCAA first throw the book at Penn State, and since lighten the penalty?

I ask you again: What does Joe Paterno have to do with James Franklin? The answer is nothing.

Sara DeBastiani

This guy is a good coach. Just sad to see Penn State people still blaming the media for everything. What happened to the accountability of the "We Do Things The Right Way" era? My father (Class of 66) is rolling over in his grave. Sad.

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