Penn State Football

Penn State Football Coach James Franklin gets MAJOR Recognition on Top Coaches List

James Franklin is entering his 10th season as the head coach of the Penn State Football team and finally is getting some major recognition by the media for his accomplishments in Happy Valley.

Bruce Feldman of the Athletic named Franklin the number five head coach in college football for the 2023 season following Penn State’s 11-2 record that ended with a win in the Rose Bowl. In 2022, Feldman ranked Franklin number 9.

In his rankings, Feldman mentions Franklin’s accomplishments at Vanderbilt, where he “took an SEC program that hadn’t finished in the Top 25 in more than 60 years to two Top 25 seasons in three years.”

Franklin also gets credit for bringing a Penn State team fresh off of sanctions when Franklin took over the program to four Top 10 finishes in the past seven seasons, winning 11 games in four season as well.


Perhaps more surprising than Franklin being ranked in the top five among college football coaches is Franklin’s placement relative to the coaches of other Big Ten foes.

On Feldman’s list, Franklin ranks one spot behind two time defending Big Ten champion Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and one spot ahead of Ohio State coach Ryan Day.

In Day’s four years as the head coach of the Buckeyes, Franklin has never beat Day head-to-head. Franklin has, however, won three games against Harbaugh during Harbaugh’s eight year tenure at Michigan. In the past two seasons, Franklin has failed to beat the Buckeyes or Wolverines, which is necessary to compete for a Big Ten championship or a spot in the college football playoff.

Why 2023 Is Huge Opportunity for James Franklin, Penn State Football

Entering a pivotal year for Penn State Football, James Franklin has the opportunity to prove his worthiness of Feldman’s high recognition and an opportunity to justify his ranking above Ryan Day if Penn State is able to steal a win in Columbus this fall.

With Drew Allar taking the helm behind center for Penn State, the next two seasons are make or break for James Franklin and the Penn State football team. Penn State enters 2023 with sky high expectations, and Franklin will hope to coach the team up to those expectations and prove that his ranking among the nation’s best coaches is not a mistake.

Trickiest aspect of ranking college football coaches is factoring in dismal or even toxic situations that a few (Leipold at KU, Franklin at Vandy & Penn State, Rhule at Baylor, Harbaugh with Stanford) have worked miracles at.

— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) March 10, 2023

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Robert Casturo

Expertise: College Football, Penn State Football Education: Saint Vincent College, Penn State Law School Location: Washington, DC Experience: Robert Casturo has covered Penn State football for NittanyCentral since 2022. Casturo previously covered Penn State football through a social media presence (@PSU_FB_Thoughts on X) since 2019. Casturo earned his bachelor's degree from Saint Vincent College in 2015, where he was a punter for 1 season on the Saint Vincent College football team and worked in the athletic department for 2 years as a student manager. Casturo earned his JD from Penn State Law in 2018 where he was a senior editor of the Penn State Law Review.