As usual, Franklin gives Pitt his full attention

By Cory Giger

Welcome to Super Bowl LV week of the James Franklin era at Penn State.

That’s 55 for the Roman numeral-challenged, representing the 55th game of Franklin’s PSU tenure.

“This is the Super Bowl for us,” the coach said of Saturday’s game at Pitt. “It is the most important game on our schedule. Why? Because it’s the game we’re playing this week.”

As silly as that may sound to some people — and Franklin has been mocked for using the Super Bowl comparison in the past — the coach is at least consistent with his message.

At every turn, no matter who the upcoming opponent, Franklin has refused to acknowledge that any game is bigger than any other game.

Penn State vs. Pitt absolutely is a big game to everyone involved, but that doesn’t mean Franklin will change his tune about treating every game the same.

Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said Monday, “Anybody who wants to argue and say this is no different than any other week, it is. “Thats a fact. If you want to ignore that, you can ignore it. It’s a big game.”

Franklin certainly was aware of Narduzzi’s comments, and repeated them back — without naming the coach — during his news conference Tuesday.

Of course, it was comments Franklin made after beating Pitt last year that ruffled feathers of Panther fans and brought a lot of national criticism to the PSU coach.

“I know last year, for their win, it was like the Super Bowl. But for us, this was just like beating Akron,” Franklin said a year go.

Franklin was asked Tuesday if he actually worded those comments the way he wanted and if he still stands by them. He then gave a lengthy answer reminding people that he treats each game as the biggest game of the season because it’s the game that week.

“I think it’s still being misinterpreted,” Franklin said of reaction to his Akron comment. “I hear people saying this is a big game, and anybody that says this isn’t a big game is kidding themselves,” making a direct reference to Narduzzi’s comments.

Franklin later added, “Last week was the Super Bowl for us. It was the most important game in the universe. This week is a huge game for us. I’ve never denied that, from the very beginning. This is the most important game on our schedule, and it’s the Super Bowl. It’s the most important game in the universe. I don’t know how much clearer I can be on that.”

With regards to his Akron comment being misinterpreted, he said, “It’s one game at a time, and we focus on the task at hand. And I’m never going to say that one game is more important than the other, except for the game that we are playing right now.?”That’s the message. That’s the message. That’s the message that I was trying to say last year. That’s the message I think for the people that cover us consistently. I come in here every single week and say that. So the people that cover us consistently, I think that message has been pretty consistent, no different.”

Again, Franklin is correct in that he has talked that way about each upcoming game for several years.

“I know people like to take sound bytes that only deal with us once a week. I get it,” he said. “Whether that’s people that don’t cover us week in and week out or certain fan bases that don’t follow us week in and week out or national. I get that. But I pretty much say the same thing every single week.”

SUBHD: Reid not right

Junior cornerback John Reid sat out large chunks of Saturday’s opener against Appalachian State and didn’t make much impact when he was on the field. Reid wasn’t hurt, just rusty after missing last season with a knee injury.

“John played like a guy that hadn’t played for a year, did some things really good, but did some things, where he was a little bit inconsistent,” Franklin said. “And I think part of that is John’s a perfectionist. He’s like that in school. He’s like that in football. It’s really important to him. And he works really hard at it.

“But I think there was a little bit of rust on him, and we were able to chip some of that rust off, and I think John’s going to have a huge year for us.”

SUBHD: Sanders on SI cover

Running back Miles Sanders scored the winning touchdown in overtime against App State, and a picture of him in the end zone graces the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated. The headline reads, “It’s lit.”

“I didn’t really know I was going to be on the cover,” Sanders said Tuesday. “Everybody was texting me saying that I was on the cover and stuff. Like I said, I’m speechless and blessed, and it’s interesting. But right now focused on Pitt.”

Sanders is from Pittsburgh and said he knows a lot of the Panther players.

“I know a pretty good amount of people on the team, but it doesn’t change,” he said. “It’s just another opponent. And it’s a friendly game, so don’t really look at it as a rivalry or nothing. But it’s a special game just playing against my friends that I know back at home.”

Sanders couldn’t help but add a comment that sounded like his coach talking.

“We treat every game like the same every week. We treat it like the Super Bowl,” he said.

Sanders is the focus of the Sports Illustrated cover, but longtime Penn State writer, “Nitwit” and Mirror contributor Mark Brennan also makes an appearance in the photo.

SUBHD: Drop in polls

Penn State’s close call against App State caused the Lions to drop from 10th to 13th in the latest. AP poll. They dropped from No. 9 to No. 10 in the coaches poll.