Penn State head coach James Franklin spent the last five minutes of his weekly teleconference Tuesday addressing media criticism of his decision to go for a two-point conversion in Saturday’s loss to Minnesota, saying it was “opinions stated as facts.”
The two-point conversion failed after the Nittany Lions scored a touchdown to draw to within 24-19 with 4 minutes, 5 seconds left in the third quarter. Some media accounts faulted the move to “chase points” that early.
Franklin repeated what he had said Saturday in his postgame remarks, that the two-point chart and the analytics said to go for two.
“My point is, sometimes the decisions are clear-cut and I get it,” he said. “And I make mistakes. A lot of people make mistakes. But when things are gray and things are stated as facts, I struggle with that.
“When I see people criticizing decisions in discipline — and I’m not just talking about my program — and you don’t have all the facts, I just struggle with things being stated as facts when they are not. They are opinions.”
Franklin brought up another decision that was questioned, when he passed on an onside kick after his team’s final touchdown with 3:49 to play. The Nittany Lions forced Minnesota into a three-and-out and, using their two remaining timeouts, had 2:40 still on the clock when they regained possession.
They drove from their own 28 to the Minnesota 10 before they were set back by an offensive pass-interference penalty. Two plays later, an interception with 1:01 to play clinched the win for the Golden Gophers.
“Why was that the right decision? Because it worked, because we stopped them,” Franklin said. “If they would have picked up two first downs and ended the game, I would have been getting my butt ripped in the press conference for ‘why didn’t you go onsides kick?’
“I’ll be the first one to admit, I’m ultimately responsible for making sure that we execute the decision. So I don’t want you to misinterpret what I’m saying. I’m still responsible for all of it, and I’ll take it. But I will tell you that’s where some of my frustration comes from sometimes.
“You can disagree with me. You’re more than welcome. I’m stating my opinion on how I see it.”