Penn State has steadily progressed into one of the most successful programs in college football under head coach James Franklin. After going 14-12 in his first two seasons, the Nittany Lions have posted a 42-11 record over the last four years, a span that includes three 11-win campaigns and a Big Ten title in 2016.
Despite the recent success while playing in one of college football’s toughest divisions, the Nittany Lions have yet to really enter the conversation with college football’s elite, likely due to the lack of a College Football Playoff appearance. But that could change in the near future.
247Sports’ Josh Pate, who hosts “Late Kick” every Thursday and Sunday Night at 7 p.m., believes Penn State’s trajectory under Franklin has been reminiscent of one of the nation’s top programs.
I’m going to say something here and then I’m going to tell you what I didn’t say. Penn State reminds me of Clemson a little bit,” Pate said. “Here’s what I didn’t say. What I didn’t say is they’re comparable to Clemson right now. I didn’t say they’re on par with Clemson, I didn’t say that I’m picking them to win the national championship two out of the next three years, nothing like that. Also, I did not tell you that James Franklin is comparable or equal to or greater than Dabo Swinney.
“But here’s what I do see. What I do see and what I remember about Clemson is I believe it was the third year for Dabo, he won the conference there. And James Franklin won one very early on, first three years of his tenure at Penn State. But yet, no one really perceived them as having arrived nationally, I don’t think. I remember that was the way it was for Clemson.
Pate believes the fact that some head coaches have been able to immediately turn their programs into national title contenders has led to other coaches being overlooked if they are not able to make that immediate splash.