“Bunch of baloney”: Pitt Football coach Pat Narduzzi defends James Franklin in fake injuries debate

Nittany Nation

Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi, left, and Penn State head coach James Franklin chat on the field be before an NCAA college football game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (WHTM) — You know the apocalypse is coming if Pitt and Penn State are defending each other.

This week as the Nittany Lions and head coach James Franklin were accused of faking injuries in Saturday’s 23-20 loss to Iowa, Penn State found an unlikely ally: Pitt Head Coach Pat Narduzzi.

The Panthers head coach in his 7th season at the helm was asked Thursday about one of his players going down at Georgia Tech. Pitt’s Keyshon Camp will be just fine, but the conversation shifted to cramping in college football.

“Lot of talk about cramps and tempo this week,” Narduzzi said, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Johnny McGonigal. “I don’t agree with James Franklin on a whole bunch, but James I’ve got your back. When you’re not playing a fast tempo offense, a team that huddles … that’s a bunch of baloney.”

James, I’ve got your back.

What a statement from a program that historically hates Penn State. When these two agree hell has frozen over.

But it’s not just love lost between the programs, Narduzzi and Franklin don’t have a strong history or friendship. They are rivals in almost every sense of the word, on the field, in recruiting and for the love and attention of the state.

Apparently this is not Narduzzi’s first experience with Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.

On Tuesday, Ferentz addressed his side of the fake injuries controversy saying he’s only experienced a team using injuries to slow down momentum. We know the second instance was this Saturday against Penn State.

But what was the first?

It may have been back in 2011, when Ferentz accused Michigan State of faking injuries in a 37-21 win over the Hawkeyes. Narduzzi served as the defensive coordinator for the Spartans that season.

“They’ll probably come up with some formula,” Narduzzi said. “Probably hold a player out for a play or two, something like that. But it’s just one of those things.”

Apparently Franklin and Narduzzi now have some common ground: being deemed floppers by the longest tenured coach in college football.

The controversy would have been put to bed in a normal game week when there’s a new opponent to focus on. James Franklin said his piece about fans booing players after the Iowa game on Saturday, and that could have been the end.

But Ferentz wanted the last work on Tuesday.

“Our fans aren’t stupid. They’re watching. They know what’s going on,” he said defending the Hawkeyes fans for booing a season-ending injury to PJ Mustipher, among other injuries to the Blue & White. Ferentz continued that the fans “thought they smelled a rat.”

How could James Franklin let that one slide? So on Wednesday, during a bye week, while announcing somber news about defensive standout Mustipher, Franklin got on his soap box for five minutes.

“Your son is down on the field for an injury and the stadium is booing them,” Franklin said with his voice raised. “But you’re son’s down on the field with an injury, and I just told you P.J. Mustipher’s done for the year, and we’re booing. Is that good for college football? Is that good for college football? Again, from a strategy standpoint, would it be strategic for us to tell P.J. Mustipher to go down and fake an injury? One of our best players. One of our starters. One of our captains. Does that make sense?”

Hopefully the Nittany Lions can put this thing to bed headed into a Oct. 23 home game against Illinois to write the ship. That is until a possible rematch on Dec. 4 in the Big Ten Championship.

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