Penn State suffered a plethora of injuries in its 23-20 loss against Iowa during one of last week’s marquee college football games, but Hawkeye fans didn’t think they were all legitimate. That led to the Nittany Lions players being showered by a chorus of boos when they went down as Saturday’s game dragged along.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz sympathized with some of the players that got hurt, including Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford. However, he also stepped up to defend his fans and criticized the Nittany Lions’ practices.
“I hope those guys are well, I don’t know what their status is,” Ferentz said, per ESPN. “Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt. But I think probably [the booing] is a reaction to, there were a couple of guys that were down for the count and then were back a play or two later. Our fans aren’t stupid. They’re watching, they know what’s going on.
“I’ve been here 23 years and I think that’s only the second time we’ve seen that kind of stuff going on.”
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Ferentz explained that faking injuries is a part of the game plan for some programs, though Iowa has rarely dealt with it. He noted that two unidentified Iowa staffers came from programs that used code words to get their players to go down at various times throughout the games.
“We don’t coach it, haven’t really been exposed to it,” Ferentz said. “But our fans thought they smelled a rat [on Saturday], I guess, I don’t know, so they responded the way they responded.”
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Penn State coach James Franklin didn’t appreciate that response. He took the boos personally and claimed that was not a part of Penn State’s strategy as they looked to earn an upset win over Iowa on the road.
“I do have a little bit of a hard time with our players getting hurt and the [Iowa] fans and the coaches and the staff booing our players,” Franklin said. “To all of the Iowa people out there, it was not part of our plan. It would not be. You don’t run a tempo offense. We had some guys get injured, and I just don’t know if I necessarily agree. I don’t think that’s the right thing for college football, booing guys when they get hurt, however it looks.”
Franklin continued to weigh in on the situation after Penn State’s practice on Wednesday. He routinely noted how little sense it made for Penn State to allegedly fake injuries for a variety of reasons and that neither he nor anyone on his staff coach players to fake injuries.
“People use this strategy to slow people down. That strategy didn’t make sense in this situation…I’ve got tremendous respect for the University of Iowa and their fans. And it was a hell ofa game in a tough environment. I’m not making excuses,” Franklin said.
“Put yourself in the shoes of a parent. Your son is down on the field with an injury and the stadium is booing. Is that good for college football? It was a physical game and there were a bunch of injuries — I get it, I get how it looks. But I’m telling you, we don’t coach that way and we don’t teach that way.”
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This should create a bit of bad blood between Penn State and Iowa ahead of their next meeting. That won’t be until 2023 unless both teams make it to the Big Ten title game this year or next. Iowa (6-0) currently leads the Big Ten West division while Penn State is behind Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in the East division.