In season 5, episode 14 of Breaking Bad titled "Ozymandias", Walter White tells a group of neo-Nazis that he has $80 million dollars buried in the desert as a result of his meth-making empire. Prior to this, we knew that Walter White had made more cheddar than I normally request on my Cheeseburgers, but we didn't know it was this much money. A few minutes go by where Walt negotiates with a man who looks to be 60-year old Jordan Stout and proposes that this man let his brother-in-law, Hank "ASAC" Schrader, live in exchange for the hard-earned cash. When weathered Jordan Stout asks Hank his thoughts on the deal, Hank slowly turns to Walt, looks him in the eyes and says "You're the smartest guy I ever met, and you're too stupid to see that you could've just coached Penn State Football."
This is the story of James Franklin.....
By way of my own background, I had never thought much of James Franklin ("Jamesy boy", "Jimmy Dean Delight", "Jiminy Cricket", "J.F.", "Jimmy", "Jimmy boy", "Jonathan", "Jordan Stout's Daddy", "Jimbob", "Jimbo", "Mr. Potato Head", "The Ohio State's Best Friend", or "Cue Ball") or Penn State ("PSU", "The Ohio State's Little Brother", or "Not so Happy Valley") until 2017 when then-current Quarterback of my alma mater (St. Xavier High School) announced his decision to attend PSU. Going to high school in Ohio, I found this unorthodox since Penn State was only mentioned at the high school lunch table when either Braxton Miller was dropping bombs on their secondary or when the former defensive coordinator was dropping the soap. Slowly digging into PSU, I wanted to start with the head coach. I'm a firm believer that a program cannot be elite unless the coach is elite. With this philosophy in the back of my head, I have been trying to answer the following question over the past 5 years: Is James Franklin Elite?
After a 6-pack of Monster and four hits of my inhaler, I have finally come to an inarguable conclusion as to whether or not James Franklin is elite. Enjoy.
James Franklin has always had a "career" dedicated to football, but just because one dedicates their life to something doesn't mean they're good at it or should dedicate their life to it. For example, I've dedicated my life to crippling diabetes and emotionally abusing my loved ones until they become enablers and shower me with endless amounts of sugar and saturated fats as I make a career behind the keys and troll anyone who ruins a Big Daddy bet.
It all started for Jamesy boy in 1995 when he locked down the esteemed Wide Receivers coaching position at Kutztown U. After going .600 in one year with Kutztown (a stat J.F. hasn't sniffed since 2019 back when my Cholesterol score was less than my weight), James showed his true colors after getting a taste of riding the coattails of other's success, jumped ship and went on to have five different jobs in four years. Mr. Loyal then settled in for a cool five years as the Receivers coach at "WR U", also known as Maryland Terrapins, until he decided to show his true colors yet again and join four other teams until 2011 when Vanderbilt hired cue ball to become the ole ball coach.
At Vanderbilt, Jimmy secured an overall record of 24-15. This record sounds pretty impressive when you take into consideration that the star players his first season were Jordan Rodgers (who is more famous for hating his one brother who is actually good at football) and Zac Stacey (who has shown more promise off the gridiron as UFC fighter than his one season with the Rams). Now if you know one thing about Jimbo, he is as cunning as an Enron Accountant and is really good at masking the numbers. Purging through his three seasons, I clearly conducted more due diligence than Penn State's Board of Trustees because I saw that he only had one top 25 win against Georgia in 2015 (same season Mark Richt dipped on Georgia before the infamous TaxSlayer Bowl).
2. Penn State
In 2014, the PSU Board of Trustees chose Jimbob to become the 17th football coach in history. Fast forwarding to today, Mr. Potato Head has secured a 67-34 record, excluding a 3-4 record in the most exclusive bowl games including the Pinstripe, TaxSlayer and Outback bowls. The Ohio State's best friend has only one division title (that led to a Big Ten title in 2016), no playoff appearances and his record against Ohio State (1-6), Michigan (3-4) and Michigan State (3-4) is a combined 7-14. So when Daddy was midway through his afternoon sleeve of double-stuff Oreos and was randomly interrupted by an ESPN report that James Franklin signed a new 10-year, $85 million extension, I nearly choked and died. My doctor for the past five years has been saying I'll either die from infection, heart disease or pulmonary embolism but never did the shrink say I'd possibly die from choking on a thicc oreo upon news that Jordan Stout's Daddy is officially going to make more money than Walter White who supplied the Southwest U.S. and parts of Europe with Meth that may have helped the Nazis win WWII.
Hearing this report, I figured that Big Daddy must have been missing something that the Board of Trustees picked up on during their due diligence. I mean surely Jonathan Franklin must be elite if he's now making more than Kirby Smart or Jimbo Fisher and as much as Dabo Swinney. I'm sure James wants to forget this, but I remember him being the coach that promised in a press-conference that The Ohio State's Little Brother would go from Good to Great to Elite (see below).
Looking at J.F.'s record at Not so Happy Valley, it didn't make sense to me that he would be rewarded with $85 million dollars after going 11-11 the past two years, excluding only one bowl game which was a loss in the Outback Bowl to an overhyped and one-dimensional Arkansas squad.
This brought me to the conclusion that PSU must be rewarding Jimmy boy for his success on the recruiting trail, which should translate to future titles. One of my core life beliefs is that success on the recruiting trail equals success on the gridiron (other core life beliefs include Halloween Oreos being the best flavor, Notre Dame will never win another football championship and Coach K needs a new Chiropractor). I fully believe that 80% of a head coaches success is who he recruits and the team dynamic he creates while the other 20% is the X's and O's. Also since I've now spent more hours of my life in the Waste Management Capital of America (New Jersey) than one would prefer, I am constantly bombarded by gold crucifixes and people as Italian as my Irish ass telling me that Jimmy Dean Delight Franklin on the recruiting trail is one of the best recruiters in the land.
So Detective Big Daddy put his Culvers' Deluxe Butterburger down and looked up Franklin's recruiting record to see if he is actually elite. I decided to take a stroll through public data over at 247 and compare J.F. to Dabo Swinney since they now each make $8.5 million.
In summary, below is a screenshot of my findings on 247 since James started at PSU. What I enjoy about 247 is that they understand recruiting rankings is a culmination of quantity and quality, similar to picking a fast-food jawn. A team like Rutgers was top-15 at one point in the Class of 2022 rankings because Greg Schiano was offering any DJ Pauly D look-a-like that he saw on the Jersey Pier. Since then, they've come back down to #33 overall (partially due to Gavin Wimsatt reclassifying to 2021, but that is for another blog). From the findings below, you will see that Dabo has out recruited James in 7 of 9 years when taking into consideration quantity and quality. With Dabo actually being an elite recruiter, we have seen this success on the trail translate into not just ACC Championships (for those of you who want to argue how much harder the Big-10 is than the ACC) but multiple playoff appearances and national championships. Daddy's favorite column below is "Average Points Per Recruit" as it quantifies the talent that a coach is able to recruit. I'll give it to Cue Ball that he has gotten better at attracting better overall talent, but he still isn't getting it done on the same annual basis that Dabo has been able to achieve.
3. Conclusion & Proposition
After reviewing Mr. Potato Head's track-record both on the gridiron and on the recruiting trail while at The Ohio State's Little Brother, I've come to the conclusion that James Franklin Is Not Elite.
Hate or Love Daddy, facts don't care about your feelings, and the above facts tell me that James Franklin is the biggest fraud in College Football. I don't blame a man for taking $85 million dollars, but I do blame a man that preaches being elite, is anything but it and then doesn't hold himself accountable. What's next year's excuse from James, the fans and the Board of Trustees when they lose the PinStripe bowl to Duke? Watching Breaking Bad for the first time, I didn't fully understand what Hank "ASAC" Schrader meant when he told Walter White that "You're the smartest guy I ever met, and you're too stupid to see that you could've just coached Penn State Football." It wasn't until reviewing the astonishing, public facts that I can now grasp what Hank meant and truly appreciate his wise words.
This brings me to my first proposition: James, when you're reading this (not if), I want to fight you. Name a date, time and location and Big Daddy is there in his high school wrastling singlet and a pair of boxing gloves from the local Fayetteville Goodwill. We can fight in the White House or a Taco Bell parking lot, I don't care. Heck, we may as well fight at Ohio Stadium so you have the chance at picking up your first-ever win there. It's about time someone holds you accountable since the Board won't, so step on up big boy. You been cruising for a bruising way too long, and it's time I get my chance to grace you with these buttery hands. Heck, let's get Dana White and UFC or Dave Portnoy and Barstool to put us in the cage / ring and sponsor this brawl. Money can go to the charity of one's choice. If I win, I'll donate the money to Penn State's Board of Trustees so they can buy you out and make me the next Head Coach, which brings me to my second proposition.
To the Penn State Board of Trustees: I would like to propose that I be your next Head Coach. I promise you with the utmost confidence that for a McDonald's ice cream cone (since the machine is always being "cleaned") and unlimited credits to the Penn State Creamery, I can roll out a sack of footballs and lead the boys to an Outback Bowl loss annually. What James requires $85 million for and has only been able to do it just once, I can do it for you annually until my abnormally weak heart gives out. If you need job references, ask Sean Clifford about my ability to clap and cheer on the boys from the sidelines during my time at St. Xavier.
Yours in degeneracy and exposing James Franklin,
Fat Curry / Big Daddy