Sunday Sports Mailbag

Franklin will continue to improve

In our professional careers, and in life, we generally improve over time with the benefit of experience and learning from our mistakes.

James Franklin is a better coach now than he was in 2011, or in 2014.

Similarly, he’ll be a better coach in 2023 than he is now. Believe it or not, the same is true of Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban, who did not fall directly from the sky and win national championships.

For five consecutive years (2009-13), Swinney’s Clemson teams lost to South Carolina by 10 or more points. Gamecocks are bitter in-state rivals and are generally mediocre.

In his first seven seasons at Clemson, Swinney’s teams went to as many (two) major bowl games as Franklin’s PSU teams have in his first four seasons.

Clemson gave up 70 points to WVU in one of those bowl games.

In his five seasons at Michigan State, Nick Saban was 6-5-1, 6-6, 7-5, 6-6 and 10-2. Clearly, his coaching skills have developed and improved over time.

Thankfully for Swinney and Saban, the same knee-jerk, armchair ADs who are now calling for James Franklin’s head were not the ADs at MSU or Clemson. Otherwise, two promising careers may have been snuffed out.

For those calling for Franklin’s head, to what level of success are we hoping to return?

Penn State fans who are honest with themselves will admit that the 1994 squad was Joe Paterno’s last team that was “elite.”

The 2005 team was great but was clearly not in the same class as the USC and Texas teams that played for the title. The 2008 team was embarrassingly exposed in the Rose Bowl by USC as a team far below “elite” status.

Since the 1994 season, Paterno’s last 17 teams had a few very good teams, some respectable teams, several mediocre teams and four losing teams.

Franklin and the PSU staff certainly deserve scrutiny for two disappointing performances, but must we break out the torches and pitchforks after each loss?

Neil Grove

Hillsborough, N.C.

MSU game ‘another painful experience’

Watching last Saturday’s game against Michigan State was quite painful for me.

Here’s one acute pain I felt: Late in the game, when we’re trying to run some clock, we snapped the ball at least once with 23 seconds left on the play clock (and the game clock was running).

MSU scored its final touchdown with 19 seconds left. Do the math.

Saturday’s game was yet another painful experience, and the players bear a responsibility for their poor execution. But the coaches bear a lion’s share of the blame. Their time management at the end of the game warrants an F, in my opinion.

Yet again, in a familiarly painful scenario, PSU relinquished the lead in the fourth quarter.

Other painful fourth-quarter meltdowns: USC in the Rose Bowl, Ohio State last year, Michigan State last year, Appalachian State this year, Ohio State this year and now Michigan State again this year.

How many more must we endure? I hope this fourth-quarter trend is over, but I fear the math just gets worse as the season progresses.

Lee Grenci, State College

Franklin needs to talk less, coach more

It’s pretty obvious that Penn State has either underachieved for all the hype and talk or this team may be on a course for a complete meltdown for the rest of the season.

For all the star recruits James Franklin has accumulated, it is woeful how undisciplined this PSU team is. I’m not talking about discipline problems. I’m talking about discipline in the players performing on game day.

Such as: Too many dropped passes; too many penalties; three years with virtually the same offensive line and an inability to control line of scrimmage; a soft defense that made last two quarterbacks (entering Saturday’s game at Indiana) look like Heisman Trophy candidates — plus the guy from App State.

Further, the kicking game has slipped measurably; both punting and field goals and the special teams are a disaster — giving up onside and fake punts are unacceptable — and as far as catching the ball, there are as many dropped interceptions as dropped passes.

To me, it’s either a lack of discipline or a lack of coaching ability.

Two weeks of practice after Ohio State to lay an egg like that? It’s either coaching or these kids were highly overrated recruits.

Franklin said after OSU there’s improvement each week.

A wise man will tell you: “Say little when you win — say less when you lose.”

James Franklin: We need less talk and better all-around performance.

Ed Hill, Altoona

Brown’s behavior needs evaluated

I wonder if Antonio Brown has been tested for CTE.

His behavior would warrant an evaluation. I’d hate to lose a great athlete to a mental malfunction.

Ken Decker, Hollidaysburg