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 five days left — is the No. 5 moment since Franklin took the head-coaching job.
No. 5 moment: Postseason ban lifted
Thousands of Penn State students packed Beaver Canyon, cheering and chanting and chugging beers.
Some stood up and surfed on mattresses. Others tossed around an orange construction barrel like it was a beach ball.
From the top-floor balcony of Cedarbrook Apartments in downtown State College, that was the scene.
While he certainly caught the footage, Penn State coach James Franklin saw something else on the night of Sept. 8, 2014 — he saw an opportunity to play in a bowl game.
The NCAA lifted its postseason ban, effective immediately, and ordered that the Nittany Lions’ scholarships be fully restored by 2015 in a decision that shaped what Penn State football is today.
Two years removed from the NCAA issuing its “unprecedented” sanctions, the governing body went back on the restrictions after the recommendations of former Sen. George Mitchell.
Mitchell, who was named the independent athletics integrity monitor in 2012, stated in his second annual report that he thought the sanctions should be removed.
“In light of Penn State’s responsiveness to its obligations and the many improvements it has instituted, I believe these student-athletes should have the opportunity to play in the postseason should they earn it on the field this year,” Mitchell said in his 58-page report.
The NCAA heeded his advice.
Instead of the bowl ban lasting through the 2015 season, the Nittany Lions were finally playing for more than each other.
They could compete for a Big Ten title or a chance to play for a national title. Even though the reality of that was slim with a roster still depleted by scholarship reductions, it was on the table.
Penn State football got new life on Sept. 8, 2014, and students celebrated accordingly.
At the time, no one knew what bowl they’d play in. But it didn’t matter.
All that mattered was that it was possible.