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James Franklin: Booing Injuries Isn't Right for College Football

Penn State coach James Franklin said he had a 'hard time' with Iowa fans booing his injured players.
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Penn State coach James Franklin questioned the boos he heard Saturday at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium after his players were hurt, saying he doesn't "think that's the right thing for college football."

Penn State lost five players to injuries, including two starters, in its 23-20 loss to the Hawkeyes. The most significant injuries were to quarterback Sean Clifford and defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, both of whom left the game in the first half and did not return.

Franklin said that five players (Clifford, Mustipher, running backs John Lovett and Devyn Ford and safety Jonathan Sutherland) left the game with injuries. He did not discuss the injuries further and did not set any timetables for the players' returns.

Meanwhile, several Penn State players, including key defensive starters Arnold Ebiketie and Jaquan Brisker, were slow to get up from plays on other occasions but did return. The crowd booed some of those moments, and Franklin said he saw similar reactions from the Iowa sideline.

"I do have a little bit of a hard time with our players getting hurt and the fans, the coaches and the staff booing our players," Franklin told reporters at Kinnick Stadium after the game. "... It was not part of our plan. Obviously, we didn't want Cliff, PJ, Lovett, Ford and Sutherland, guys who play significant football for us, to get injured."

The injuries, particularly those to Clifford and Mustipher, forced Penn State to change its gameplan, particularly on offense. In addition, having lost two running backs, Penn State's offense was limited to just two backs in Noah Cain and Keyvone Lee.

Franklin cited the "next-man-up" philosophy but added that he was responsible for having those backups prepared.

"We weren't ready for that on the road," Franklin said in his postgame media session. "We did not do a good job of that. That starts with me. I didn't have the guys ready for that."

Franklin added that, since Iowa does not use a tempo philosophy on offense, he did not instruct players to stay down on the field to slow the game's pace. "To all the Iowa people out there, it was not part of our plan," Franklin said. "It would not be."

Penn State (5-1) had been relatively fortunate regarding injuries before the game at Iowa. The Lions have a bye week before returning home to host Illinois on Oct. 23.

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"We had some guys get injured, and I just don’t know if I necessarily agree, I don’t think that’s the right thing for college football, booing guys when they get hurt, however it looks," Franklin said. "If one of those kids would have been significantly hurt, and you're booing them, I've got a hard time with that. But I've got my own issues to deal with."

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz wasn't asked specifically about the booing but did praise the fans for creating a difficult atmosphere in which to play. Penn State's offense committed eight false-start penalties, including three straight, after Roberson entered the game.

On Tuesday, Ferentz said that "nobody wants to see anybody get hurt" but added that Saturday's game marked "only the second time we have seen that kind of stuff going on" while at Iowa. Ferentz added that fans "thought they smelled a rat."

"I know it's a topic nationally right now," Ferentz said at his weekly news conference. "It was one of the discussions of the rules... Nobody knows the answer to it. ... But I also know for a fact that ... there are two people in our building that have been places where that was "Scuba" or "Dive" — no "Scuba" and "Turtle" were the code words. So it goes on. We don't coach it, haven't really been exposed to it, and our fans, I thought they smelled a rat, I guess, I don't know, so they responded the way they responded."

Iowa fans celebrate their team's 23-20 win over Penn State at Kinnick Stadium. (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen)

Iowa fans celebrate their team's 23-20 win over Penn State at Kinnick Stadium. (Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen)

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