What a turnaround it’s been for Penn State coach James Franklin.
Franklin was named the Big Ten Dave McClain Coach of the Year, as voted on by media members, the conference announced on Tuesday.
“I’m honored and humbled, but this is a team award. This is a staff award,” Franklin said on the Big Ten Network’s awards show broadcast. “We’ve got the best staff in the country. We’ve got the best players; I love our kids and our locker room. So we appreciate it.”
In Franklin’s third year at the helm, the Nittany Lions are 10-2 with an 8-1 conference mark heading into Saturday’s Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin. It’s the first time since the NCAA levied “unprecedented” sanctions in July 2012 that the Nittany Lions have won more than eight games in a season.
After starting the season 2-2, Penn State is on an eight-game winning streak, including an upset win over Ohio State and a regular-season clincher against Michigan State. The last time Penn State defeated the Buckeyes and Spartans in the same season was 2008.
With the Nittany Lions looking at a New Year’s Six bowl — or possibly a trip to the College Football Playoff — this’ll be the third consecutive season Franklin has led Penn State to a postseason appearance. Penn State went 7-6 the first two seasons of Franklin’s tenure, with a 2014 Pinstripe Bowl win over Boston College and a 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl loss to Georgia.
The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings and No. 8 in the AP Poll. This season is the first time Penn State has been nationally ranked since 2011.