By Neil Rudel
The No. 1 issue for the rest of the season is who will fill the now-vacated Nittany Lions position.
James Franklin hastened the story by pulling the plug on Mike Yurcich’s tenure last Sunday after Penn State lost to Michigan, 24-15.
Or did he do it quickly?
According to a report by Audrey Snyder of The Athletic, quarterback Bekkem Kritza met with Franklin last Saturday morning at Beaver Stadium before the Lions’ game against the Wolverines.
The meeting included Kritza’s family and was held in the Franklin Stadium office near the PSU locker room.
As he prepared to inform Franklin and the Lions staff that he wanted to commit to the 2025 season, Colorado’s sales team noticed that Yurcich – who had worked on the recruiting process – was not available.
“I just felt like something wasn’t right,” Kritza told Snyder. “He’s the biggest guy I talk to. I knew it then, and Coach Franklin knew I knew it so he just gave it to me. “
“Straight” is Franklin’s revelation that Yurcich “will not be there.”
“Before the game when I told Coach Franklin I was doing it, he showed it,” Kritza said.
It didn’t stop Young from pledging his loyalty to Franklin, but it does raise some questions.
Had Franklin already made up his mind about Yurcich? Had he already told Yurcich that he was done? If so, why would they let him call the biggest game of the year?
If the Lions had improved on offense, would Yurcich still be gone?
And one more thing: Writing about the future is important, but shouldn’t we focus on the present?
Weren’t the stakes high under Franklin when Michigan represented the biggest game of the year and, in turn, a chance to play for the Big Ten title and a chance to appear in the College Football Playoff?
A case could be made that beating the Wolverines would have been a huge win for Franklin.
Now Franklin is looking for his next/latest OC, and it’s anyone’s guess when that will end and who will get the job.
Perhaps the interview will take place in the first half of today’s game against Rutgers, which would be appropriate based on what happened last week.
Franklin didn’t put his hand on who will play, saying only that Ja’Juan Seider and Ty Howle will participate, and that Danny O’Brien will be on the field working with the linebackers.
Franklin won’t want to publicly promote an assistant coach at this point or reveal whether the Lions didn’t play well on offense today against Rutgers (noon, FS1).
Either way, it’s a little confusing in the blue and white camp.
n Rutgers averaged 5.9 points in the last nine meetings with Penn State having 10 doubles.
n The Knights are 19th in total defense, allowing 18.3 points per game. Michigan (7.5), Ohio State (9.9), Iowa (12.3) and Penn State (I13.1) make up the top four.
n Rutgers runs better than it passes so after watching Michigan get a win against the Lions by using an extra offensive line and almost being on the floor, don’t be surprised if Greg Schiano uses the same strategy.
n Today is senior day, but it’s a little different from the past because of the transportation system. There is a long list planned. Some can be recognized and come back. Some may not stay but they are leaving. The only players with a chance to remain are DB Keaton Ellis, Johnny Dixon and C Hunter Nourzad.
n After two losses to teams that were very important, this is the time of year when NFL officials plan to commit to reducing their playing time.
n If the Lions win their next two (Rutgers, at Michigan State) and finish 10-2, they’ll still fall into the Big Bowl. Right now, fantasy has them in Peach (Dec. 30), Cotton (Dec. 29) or Fiesta (Jan. 1) against any combination of Alabama, Texas, Ole Miss, Oregon, Washington or Tulane. With the exception of Tulane, I think the Nits can be the best contenders of all.
Rudel can be reached at [email protected].