College football grades: Why Penn State coach did pushups on sideline

We are entering the final stretch for the College Football Report Card this season and while conference races are heating up, so is the play on the field – and the hot seats some coaches find themselves on.   

Remember, the same thing goes for grading as last season. High marks will be only for the spectacular, and failing grades have no chance of being reversed.

Here is the Week 11 analysis of how fans, teams, players, and coaches fared:   

Pirate philosophy

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Most of the time when college football coaches are interviewed during a game, they don’t offer much analysis or insight that the average fan can’t decipher for themselves. Bland answers, lying about injuries and having the personality of an eggplant is standard operating procedure for these millionaires, more concerned with their next extension and staying on boosters’ good sides. 

Which brings us to Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach, who is known to produce zingers when talking about his hate for candy corn, conference realignment and whatever else is on his mind.

Leach, with his team trailing 17-12 at halftime against top-ranked Georgia, had the fortune of being interviewed by sideline reporter Molly McGrath, who asked for his reaction to some of the calls in the first half that didn’t go the Bulldogs’ way.

‘What’s your reaction?’ Leach asked McGrath. ‘You’re watching the same game I am. I think you oughta comment on it positive or negatively … whatever’s running through your mind.’

Well, done. Mr. Leach. Well done, except the Bulldogs of Athens beat the Bulldogs of Starkville 45-19. 

Interview response 101: A+

Sideline workout

Penn State has been oft-criticized in this space for its lack of championship success, especially compared to the resources the university has at hand. 

Coach James Franklin, in an attempt to, well, who knows, did something Saturday that really has no explanation. 

With Penn State up 21-0 in the first half against Maryland, Franklin was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. The flag cost his team points as the Nittany Lions settled for a field goal to end the possession.

Franklin thought it would be wise to knock out 15 pushups to make up for the penalty he brought upon himself, whether it was warranted or not.  

Good to see that Franklin is in shape. Here is his explanation about why he did it:

‘I had my first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in 12 years as a head coach. I was embarrassed by it. I did my pushups, and everybody is held accountable,’ Franklin said. ‘I think they thought I was yelling at the officials, and I wasn’t, I was yelling at our players, but either way I got an unsportsmanlike conduct, my first one in 12 years.’ 

Predictable posturing : F

Stats for you

2 – Pick-sixes by the Pittsburgh defense in the first two offensive plays for Virginia. The Panthers led 14-0 after 16 seconds of play.

6 – Wins by Connecticut this season. The Huskies reached bowl eligibility for the first time since 2015. 

7 – Blocked kicks by Notre Dame in 2022.

26 – Consecutive SEC games lost by Vanderbilt, a streak that was finally snapped after the Commodores beat Kentucky.

28 – Consecutive games Indiana has lost to Ohio State. The latest Hoosier setback to the Buckeyes was a 56-14 thrashing. 

548 – Career tackles for Troy linebacker Carlton Martial, a new FBS record. 

724 – Total offensive yards by Tennessee in a 66-24 win over Missouri, setting a school record. 

Best and worst of the week

Sticky fingers: A

Nebraska’s Alante Brown might want to rethink hurdling next time.

Flip flop: F

…Because this is how it’s done, courtesy of Clemson running back Will Shipley. 

Olympic style: Straight to graduation

Inspiration, personified. 

Comeback Kam: A+

Michigan was rumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin, fumblin’.

Cue Yakety Sax: Good job, good effort

The Dog of the Week: Texas A&M at Auburn

One team has a coach in Jimbo Fisher that would land on most lists of the most overpaid in college football – or any industry, for that matter. The other team tried to fire its coach (Bryan Harsin) in the offseason, failed, then waited until his team was an absolute dumpster fire before paying him millions to exit stage left. 

Texas A&M and Auburn looked like they had competent football players when they met on Saturday, but when they actually started playing, it was anything but competence – especially for the Aggies. The first eight times A&M had the ball, the punter responded by giving his leg an extra workout.  

The Aggies gained a grand total of -2 yards in the third quarter. It got so bad when they punted again early in the fourth quarter, the commentator said ‘Even Iowa’s offense scored 17 points today.’ Woof. If you are put in the same sentence as the Hawkeyes’ offense, you know you and the pups are having a bad day. 

Follow Scooby Axson on Twitter @scoobaxson. 

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