Penn State came under fire from fans who thought the team was faking injuries to slow Iowa's momentum during the Hawkeyes' 23-20 home win in Week 6. Nittany Lions coach James Franklin turned the flames around during his Wednesday press conference, questioning whether booing injured players like fans at Kinnick Stadium did is "good" for college football.
In an impassioned five-minute speech, Franklin said his defense was playing "lights out," and that faking injuries to slow the game down made little sense against a huddle offense like No. 2 Iowa's.
"How does this strategy make sense against a huddle team?" Franklin asked. "People use this strategy to slow people down -- spread offenses, tempo offenses. [The Hawkeyes] huddle, so that strategy didn't make sense in this situation. In our six years of playing them -- six years straight, 4-2 with our record -- has that ever shown up? Has anybody seen that? In my eight years as a coach at Penn State, has that showed up? In my 12 years as a head coach, has that shown up? It has not shown up."
Franklin noted his defense was playing "great" against Brian Ferentz's offense regardless of its five injury timeouts. Despite an interception from QB Sean Clifford on the game's first play, No. 7 Penn State relented only 13 points over the first three quarters of the top-five matchup.
Franklin announced star defensive tackle PJ Mustipher, who Iowa fans booed after he went down early in the game, will miss the rest of the season with an injury. The very thought of Mustipher's injury and the Iowa fans' reception caused Franklin to get existential about the game.
"Put yourselves in the shoes of a parent," Franklin added. "Your son is down on the field with the injury … and your stadium is booing him … I just told you PJ Mustipher is out for the year with an injury and we're booing. Is that good for college football?"
Franklin's comments follow Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz giving a less-than-empathetic response Tuesday about Penn State's injury situation. Ferentz, who admitted some of the Nittany Lions were "legitimately hurt," said the Iowa fans weren't "stupid" for booing some of the injuries because they "know what's going on."
"I've been here 23 years," Ferentz said. "I think that's only the second time we've seen that kind of stuff going on. I know it's a topic nationally right now; it was one of the discussions of the rules making. Nobody quite knows the answer to it. I also know for a fact, there are two people in our building that have been places where 'scuba' or 'dive,' err 'scuba' and 'turtle' were the code words."
"We don't coach it," the 66-year-old added. "Haven't really been exposed to it. But our fans thought they smelled a rat, I guess, I don't know, and they responded the way they responded."
The Big Ten rivals are back in action Saturday, as Penn State battles Illinois at noon while Iowa will take on Purdue at 3:30 p.m. ET.