As much as we tried putting to rest this whole ongoing conversation about Iowa fans booing Penn State injuries last weekend, we were thrown one more curveball in this whole story. Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi became a surprise ally of Penn State’s James Franklin when the Panthers head coach took Franklin’s side on the whole situation.
In answering a question about one of his players who was banged up in a recent game, Narduzzi went on a slight tangent and brought up the idea of players cramping up in games. Then, out of almost nowhere, Narduzzi decided to stick up for Franklin following Franklin’s passionate comments defending his players being injured and being serenaded with a chorus of boos from Iowa fans all game long.
“A lot of talk about cramps and tempo this week,” Narduzzi said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “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, nobody goes down with a cramp. That’s a bunch of baloney.”
Of course, Narduzzi has some personal beef on a related issue with Iowa dating back to his time as defensive coordinator at Michigan State. Per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette;
Before he accepted the job at Pitt, Narduzzi was Michigan State’s defensive coordinator from 2007-14. In 2011, several Spartan players went down with injuries late in a 37-21 win over the Hawkeyes at Kinnick. According to a story in The Daily Iowan, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio called them “legitimate injuries” — while some Hawkeye fans questioned the validity of those injuries.
Perhaps it was his own personal stake in the war on Iowa that caused Narduzzi to come to the defense of Franklin. You have to wonder how much Narduzzi wrestled with that one.
Franklin explained to the media following Penn State’s loss to Iowa that players faking injuries is not a strategy that was deployed by Penn State and suggested that doing so didn’t make sense against a team that runs the style of offense Iowa typically does.
Maybe now we can officially turn the page on this whole storyline.