Penn State coach James Franklin responded Wednesday to Iowa's suggestion that his players might have faked injuries, saying that the idea didn't make sense to him.
"I would ask anybody that's listening to take your Penn State hat off, or take your Iowa hat off," Franklin told reporters after the team's practice in State College. "I'm just going to talk [about] what I believe and what I think from a strategy standpoint, from a common-sense perspective, from what's good for college football. So how does this strategy make sense against a huddle team?"
Franklin devoted about five minutes of his post-practice media session, to which he brought notes, to what happened in Iowa's 23-20 in over Penn State. The Lions lost five players to injuries during the game. Franklin said Wednesday that defensive tackle PJ Mustipher is out for the season. He did not provide updates on the four other players, including quarterback Sean Clifford.
After the game, Franklin took issue with fans who booed those injuries and Iowa staff members who reacted on the sideline. Franklin said he didn't think "that was right for college football."
On Tuesday, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said that some fans "smelled a rat" with Penn State players potentially faking injuries. Ferentz also said that several members of his staff have worked at programs that used code words to indicate when players should stay down.
Franklin took issue with the implication that his program might be one of them.
"In our six years of playing [Iowa], six years straight, 4-2 [is] our record, has that ever shown up?" Franklin asked. "Has anybody seen that? In my eight years as a head coach, has that shown up at Penn State? In my 12 years as a head coach, has that shown up? Has not shown up."
Franklin later added, "I wasn't attacking the University of Iowa. I'm trying to protect college football."
Here's the text of Franklin's response:
"First of all, I would ask anybody that's listening to take your Penn State hat off, or take your Iowa hat off. I'm just going to talk [about] what I believe and what I think from a strategy standpoint, from a common-sense perspective, from what's good for [college] football, in my opinion. So how does this strategy make sense against a huddle team? People use this strategy to slow people down: spread offenses, tempo offenses. [Iowa] huddled. So that strategy did not make sense in this situation.
"In our six years of playing them, six years straight, 4-2 [is] our record, has that ever shown up? Has anybody seen that? In my eight years as a head coach, has that shown up at Penn State? In my 12 years as a head coach, has that shown up? Has not shown up.
"Plus, our defense is playing lights out. Our defense played great. Our defense is playing lights out. We turn the ball over to start the game inside the 5-yard line, held them to a field goal. So again, go back and check it. And again, ... I've got tremendous respect for the University of Iowa, I’ve got tremendous respect for their fans. It was a hell of a game in a tough environment; not making excuses. I'm just stating how I see the facts. Take your fan hats off. I want the Penn State fans to take their hats off. Now let's talk about injuries.
"Before that, put yourself in the shoes of a parent. Your son is down on the field for an injury, and then the stadium is booing. We didn't just boo that, we booed balls falling off tees by the wind. I don't know who we were booing for that. We weren't gaining an advantage off that. But your son's down on the field with an injury — and I just told you [defensive tackle] PJ Mustipher is done for the year — and we're booing. Is that good for college football? Is that good for college football?
"Now again, from a strategy standpoint, would it be strategic for us to tell PJ Mustipher to go down and fake an injury? One of our best players, one of our starters, one of our captains? Does that make sense? If you're going to do it, you wouldn't do with your starter, your captain. Alright, let's talk about his backup, Dvon Ellies, who also got booed. So would it make sense for the backup defensive tackle, when we've already lost our starter, to send him out of the game for a play? I don't think so. [Defensive end Arnold Ebiketie], maybe our best defensive player, and his [injury] probably looked the worst. He went down. Maybe it's because he plays so hard, he was cramping. But am I going to tell [Ebiketie] to go down and not play a play on defense? Does that make any sense?
"[Safety Jaquan] Brisker? He went down twice against Wisconsin, they didn’t boo him. [Quarterback] Sean Clifford, do we want him to go down and not return to the game? Devyn Ford, our starting tailback in the game, went down and did not return in the game. Did we want that to happen? [Running back John] Lovett went down, did not return in the game. [Safety Jonathan] Sutherland, our captain, our captain, went down and did not return in the game.
"So it was a physical game. Was there a bunch of injuries? I get it, I get it. And how it may have looked, I get it. I'm telling you, we don't coach it, we don't teach it. And maybe it looked that way, because it was a bunch of injuries in the game. Again, there's a bunch of injuries in the game. But 70% of those guys never returned.
"So all I'm saying is, I don't think it's right for college football. If a player goes down, and it's my son, and the stadium is booing them? It's no different than a player going down to practice. One of the things I tell the coaches all the time is, a player goes down at practice, what did coaches used to say for 100 years? 'Get up, you're fine.' What if he's not? So I wasn't attacking the University of Iowa. I'm trying to protect college football. And I don't think that's the right thing for our game."