Penn State’s James Franklin in no-win situation when discussing refs |
Penn State

Penn State’s James Franklin in no-win situation when discussing refs

Penn State coach James Franklin congratulates offensive lineman Des Holmes after a successful extra point during the second half against Iowa on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. Penn State won 17-12.

Penn State coach James Franklin found the disparity in penalties curious Saturday night at Iowa but avoided making any stronger statements about officiating after his team’s 17-12 victory.

Franklin smiled slightly and said, “No” when asked whether he received an explanation for tight end Pat Freiermuth’s overturned touchdown in the second half.

Holding penalties called back two other apparent touchdowns on the series, and Penn State settled for a field goal and a 10-6 lead.

“I’d love to do it. Trust me. Trust me,” Franklin said when asked whether he had anything to say about it. “I’d love to have a lengthy conversation about this. Our fans want me to have a lengthy conversation about it. It’s not going to do any good.”

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A pool reporter sought to ask referee John O’Neill’s crew, including the replay official, about the decision to overturn Freiermuth’s touchdown. An official said crews are not permitted to comment on judgment calls.

Franklin diligently has refrained from discussing officials during his career at Penn State. That included the 2014 game against Ohio State, which O’Neill also refereed and which was affected by “technical difficulties.” An issue with the video replay feed following a called interception and an expired play clock on an Ohio State field goal contributed to Penn State’s overtime loss in Franklin’s first season.

Further, O’Neill was the referee for Penn State’s game at Nebraska in 2012, when another tight end’s touchdown was disputed. In that game, Mat Lehman fumbled at the goal line, though replays appeared to show he scored before losing control of the ball. Nebraska won 32-23.

“We’re going to enjoy the win and focus on the things we can control,” Franklin said Saturday. “But I get it. I get it. But I’m in a no-win situation here.”

Asked whether he thought he had scored, Freiermuth said, “I wish.” The tight end chose to remain out of the officiating fray as well.

“It is what it is,” he said. “… It definitely stunk that we didn’t get a touchdown, because we pride ourselves on scoring touchdowns in the red zone. It stung for a little bit, but me and [quarterback Sean Clifford] went down the sidelines, called the offense together and said, ‘We’ve got to pick it up.’ ”

Franklin did address the officiating obliquely, though. Penn State entered the game as the Big Ten’s least-penalized team at four per game, which also ranked fifth nationally. The Lions were penalized a season-high eight times for 80 yards. Iowa received one penalty for 5 yards.

Penn State was penalized six times before Iowa was flagged for a false start in the third quarter.

“The thing that was really interesting was, [we’re] one of the least-penalized teams in the country and we come in here and tonight and it didn’t necessarily play out that way,” Franklin said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

Categories: Sports | Penn State
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