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 three days left — is the No. 3 moment since Franklin took the head-coaching job.
No. 3 moment: 2016 College Football Playoff selection Sunday
Sure, a lot of Penn State fans look back on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, as a disappointing day.
Less than 24 hours after a remarkable comeback to win the Big Ten championship, the Nittany Lions were left out of the College Football Playoff.
The committee took Ohio State instead, a team that didn’t win its conference, didn’t win its division and, of course, lost to Penn State.
After the Nittany Lions stormed back to beat Wisconsin 38-31 and James Franklin lifted the Big Ten trophy, he said on the Lucas Oil Stadium stage that it was now on the committee to make its decision — and it did. But being in that conversation still marked a huge day in Franklin’s tenure.
The night before in Indianapolis was bigger — that’ll be addressed in this segment later in the week — but the afternoon after was important, too.
Think back to Week 2, when the Nittany Lions fell short at Pitt. Return to Week 3, when Penn State beat Temple by the skin of its teeth. Remember Week 4, when it lost to Michigan by 39 points.
At the time, Penn State was 2-2 and a winning season wasn’t a lock. It really wasn’t.
Fast forward to Dec. 4, and the Nittany Lion fans were lambasting the committee for not dubbing Penn State a top-4 team.
Was the criticism fair? Probably. But that doesn’t make PSU’s run any less incredible.
The fact that Franklin was interviewed on TV by an ESPN reporter and was asked if the team was disappointed to go to the Rose Bowl is wild — not so much the concept, as much as how things changed in such a short period of time.
From 2-2 and beaten down to “The Granddaddy of Them All” being a consolation prize, the Nittany Lions came a long way in 2016.
And Penn State’s return to national prominence on college football’s Selection Sunday showed that.