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Franklin must improve on game day

Commentators at SEC media days were still talking of Penn State’s loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.

This was not a SEC West team — Alabama, LSU or Auburn — but a mediocre team from the weaker SEC East.

On the first series of the game on fourth and 9 from his own 26-yard line, James Franklin tried a fake punt, and the play failed.

Kentucky stopped PSU and went in for first touchdown so it was 7-0 before the Nittany Lions’ defense even got on the field.

In the fourth quarter, with nearly five minutes left, down by six points, Franklin decided to go for a field goal. He made a decision that his defense would get the ball back.

Penn State had not stopped Kentucky’s running back, Benny Snell, all day. If you’re betting the defense will get you the ball back, why not let Trace McSorley go for the end zone and a touchdown to go ahead and win?

The conversation at Big Ten media days came up about “elite teams.”

Elite teams have always had elite coaches — Bear Bryant and Nick Saban at Alabama, Woody Hayes and Urban Meyer at Ohio State, Bud Wilkinson and Barry Switzer at Oklahoma.

Franklin has proven he is not an elite coach, and PSU will never be elite with his coaching.

Proof is his dismal record in Big Ten East. He’s got three wins out of 15 tries agains rivals of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State along with unnecessary losses to Pitt and USC.

It shows in recruiting now — he’s getting two-, three-, maybe four-star recruits while OSU and Michigan get the five stars. Franklin has as many five-star decommits than most schools ever get.

It will be an interesting year for PSU. It’s Franklin’s sixth season. Can’t blame sanctions, Joe Paterno or Bill O’Brien now. These are all his coaches and his recruits.

When you can’t win with McSorley and Saquon Barkley, it’s extremely doubtful you can be “elite” without them.

Ed Hill

Altoona