We’re counting down the days until kickoff. So, every day, we’ll try to make that time tick by just a little faster by also counting down the top 30 moments of James Franklin’s tenure so far. Up next — with 10 days left — is the No. 10 moment since Franklin took the head-coaching job.
No. 10 moment: James Franklin named Coach of the Year
A few months after some fans called for James Franklin’s job, he was dubbed college football’s national coach of the year — twice.
Franklin was named the national coach of the year by the Sporting News and also earned the Woody Hayes Award, given by The Touchdown Club of Columbus, after Penn State’s 11-3 season in 2016.
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The head coach continued what the two coaches before him had built. Joe Paterno won coach of the year honors nine times in his 46-year tenure, and Bill O’Brien — Franklin’s predecessor — earned the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Maxwell Coach of the Year award and Big Ten Coach of the Year award in 2012.
The awards capped the best year of Franklin’s coaching career.
After back-to-back 7-6 seasons, some weren’t sold on Franklin’s ability to take Penn State back to powerhouse status.
But as he steered the Nittany Lions’ ship to an upset of Ohio State, a Big Ten title and trip to the Rose Bowl, those doubters were silenced.
Franklin considers any individual coach of the year honors to be staff awards; he wants credit to go to Joe Moorhead, Brent Pry, Sean Spencer and the rest of his assistants.
But in 2016, it was Franklin guiding the Nittany Lions back to prominence. Those awards solidified that.