Analysts criticize Christian Hackenberg for alleged James Franklin blame
You knew there was going to be a reaction.
Christian Hackenberg is too much of a lightning rod pre-draft topic of discussion for alleged comments criticizing his coach to simply go away. Sports Illustrated reported that two different sources said that Hackenberg’s meetings with NFL teams didn’t go well because he blamed James Franklin for his struggles during his sophomore and junior seasons.
Naturally, the story made the rounds on the airwaves Monday. Not everyone was quick to defend Hackenberg.
“Everybody who has looked at Christian Hackenberg knows exactly what has gone on there, that the system has changed, that he got beat up, that it was a different coach. Everybody knows that,” ESPN’s Mike Golic said on ‘Mike and Mike’. “You don’t want to hear the guy say it. You don’t. You may not like it, that’s fine. You may like all the truth out there, but that’s not how the game works.
“Now you have a guy that’s going to be the face of your program that’s now basically pointing the finger at somebody else in college. That’s not what you want.”
Golic said that it wasn’t an issue of whether or not Hackenberg was correct in his alleged assessment of his struggles. More importantly, Golic said, was that Hackenberg’s comments could indicate how he’ll handle future similar situations. He referenced how that was Robert Griffin III’s downfall in Washington.
To be clear, Golic said that we don’t know exactly what Hackenberg said, and that his criticism was only applicable if the report was accurate.
ESPN NFL analyst Jeff Saturday agreed that if true, it certainly wouldn’t help Hackenberg’s draft stock.
“Just probably not the best PR move,” Saturday said on Russillo and Kanell. “Systems matter for players. I don’t care what anybody says. Changing of a system can often be difficult. You may not play well in one particular system so it’s not that I agree or disagree with him. You really don’t know….”
Danny Kanell followed that up by defending Hackenberg’s reasoning.
“He is right,” he said. “(Russillo) was killing me by saying, ‘Well if he’s right, do we not want him to tell the truth?'”
That, perhaps, is the bigger issue at hand. Yahoo’s Dan Wentzel wrote about the hypocrisy of the NFL draft process and why Hackenberg was in a lose-lose situation.
“This is two unnamed sources in a league with hundreds, maybe thousands of them. Even if these two didn’t like Hackenberg’s answer, their bosses (if they have bosses) might have loved it.
It also may have come across wrong. Or maybe Hackenberg has changed his answer for others. Or maybe it never even happened. Who knows? This is one side of the story and there is no context. A team might also be bad mouthing Hackenberg under the hope he drops in the draft to iy. Far worse rumors have and will be floated.
For NFL teams in the weeks before the draft, the truth has no value. Nor, apparently, does it for potential draft picks.”
Still, Saturday said, the concern is more about the hypothetical situation that could present itself for a possible franchise quarterback.
“Those guys are thinking, ‘If he’s willing to throw this guy under the bus, would he throw me under the bus?'” he said. “I think that’s more to the point of do you agree or disagree that he did it.”
The draft will begin a month from today. Don’t expect the talk around Hackenberg to quiet down anytime soon.