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It goes without saying that Penn State had a tough 2020 season. And when you pair that with a few really good seasons by some other programs last year, it makes sense to see Penn State head coach James Franklin drop in a ranking of FBS coaches heading into the 2021 season.
Sporting News released its ranking of the top 25 FBS coaches for the 2021 season. And this year, Franklin has fallen out of the top 10, falling from No. 9 in 2020 to No. 11 this season. Not surprisingly, Penn State’s underperforming 4-5 record is a big culprit.
Here’s what Sporting News said about Franklin and his ranking;
The Nittany Lions are coming off a disastrous 4-5 season, which knocked Franklin out of our top 10. That took some momentum off a four-year stretch where Penn State had a 42-11 record that would be more conducive to a 12-team Playoff setup. Franklin still consistently puts out the biggest threat to Ohio State on the field in the Big Ten, and that continues to be the elusive next step for the program.
Franklin is still ranked admirably among his peers in college football, but he was passed by two coaches making big gains since last year. North Carolina head coach Mack Brown jumped up four spots from No. 14 to No. 10 after taking the Tar Heels to the ACC championship game last fall. But it was Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell making the monster jump in the rankings by moving from No. 24 in 2020 all the way up to No. 9 this year. Campbell also coached his team to its conference championship game, but both Brown and Campbell came up short in their respective conference championship games to Clemson and Oklahoma, respectively.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban remains the No. 1 coach in FBS after winning another national title. Ohio State‘s Ryan Day is the highest-ranked Big Ten coach at No. 6. Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald comes in just behind Franklin (the second highest-ranked Big Ten coach) at No. 12, and Michigan‘s Jim Harbaugh is ranked No. 15 by Sporting News. Wisconsin‘s Paul Chryst is ranked No. 17 (arguably too low, but he did drop five spots from last year).
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz (No. 20) and Indiana’s Tom Allen (No. 21) also appear in the top 25 to give the Big Ten seven of the top 25 FBS coaches in 2021, according to Sporting News.
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