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Citrus TV crew touches up Franklin

Perception can become reality depending on how the media delivers a message and in the case of Penn State football coach James Franklin that probably means his game management skills took another hit as a result of the VRBO Citrus Bowl.

A late-game TV shot seemed to catch the coach looking up at the scoreboard and asking “What down is it?” on the final Kentucky drive when some thought the Nittany Lions should have been using their timeouts sooner.

That visual, coupled with UK’s ability to run out the clock, probably resonated with people who are generally critical of Franklin’s late-game decisions.

Earlier in the game, Penn State’s offensive approach endured some scrutiny from TV analyst Brock Huard, a former college and NFL quarterback who generally brings a reasoned approach to his work.

While Franklin has consistently defended his offense in short-yardage situations, play-by-play man Dave Flemming wondered aloud why the offense, which always operates out of a shotgun, could not have its quarterback step under center in those short-yardage situations.

Huard said that seemed like reasonable approach and that it was something that could be done.

Now, there’s no way Franklin plans to change his approach, and among local media the topic that has been addressed and long concluded.

To hear it brought up on a bigger stage, though — and not in a manner in which Penn State received wholehearted approval for its work — felt a bit like an indictment, intended or otherwise.

Also, closer to home, Penn State Sports Network analyst Jack Ham said before the game that the team’s 9-3 regular season was disappointing.

That was somewhat surprising, though welcome, candor. He was not overly critical, just honest in a way that probably resonated with listeners as he pointed to losses in games the team had under control at times.

Got Garth?

Garth Brooks’ stadium concert at Notre Dame, which happened in October and was televised in November and then again over the holidays by CBS, was the start of a three-year stadiums-only tour for the record-setting artist.

The first six dates of the tour include three stops at stadiums that play host to college football. That’s April 20 in Gainesville, Florida; May 3-4 in Minneapolis; and May 18 in Pittsburgh.

If Brooks does three years of touring stadiums and does not visit Beaver Stadium, one of the largest stadiums in the world, it seems like a missed opportunity.

Now, Penn State might not have the personnel or willingness to try to harness such a major event, but it seems like something that should at least be explored — especially for an athletic department that has been working to create revenue streams and monetize as much as possible in recent years.

Tuner tidbits

n Inspirational Purdue fan Tyler Trent, who earned widespread media attention during his battle with bone cancer while supporting his university’s football team, died New Year’s Day. Media mentions and tributes were plentiful, sincere and tasteful — an unusual and welcome combination.

n Penn State’s men’s basketball home game next Sunday against perennial power Michigan State has been set for a 4:30 p.m. tipoff, with the game airing on CBS. That will be the Nittany Lions’ only regular season game on the over-the-air network this season. School officials hope to make the most of the opportunity with a whiteout at the Bryce Jordan Center.

n While the Oakland Raiders gained a general manager, TV sports fans lost a compelling and informed expert on NFL Draft coverage when Mike Mayock joined the team last week. His opinions and research gave the NFL Network credibility to match its access covering the draft. It’s a big loss and how NFL Network fills the void will be interesting.

n Belated kudos to the Steelers Radio Network for doing something appropriate but unusual in the immediate aftermath of the Steelers’ regular season finale against the Bengals. After the game, the conclusion of the relevant Browns-Ravens game was shown on big screens at Heinz Field. So, Bill Hillgrove and Co. described that action on radio for Steelers fans driving home from the stadium. It was clunky at times (and probably a violation of NFL broadcast rights), but it was the right thing to do.

Sampsell can be reached at stevesampsell@gmail.com.

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