James Franklin either didn't watch Saquon Barkley terrorize Akron in the first half on Saturday or wasn't that impressed, because after Barkley's monster first half he risked Penn State's entire season on a meaningless kick return.
Barkley rushed nine times for 145 yards and two touchdowns as the Nittany Lions built a 35-0 lead at halftime. The game was over. But instead of calling it a day for his Heisman contender — or even giving him a few carries to open the half — Franklin put Barkley on special teams.
His prized junior running back — the best running back in the country — was the kickoff returner for the opening kickoff of the second half.
"Penn State having Saquon Barkley return 2nd half kickoff with 35-0 lead one of the dumbest things I've seen in a long time," tweeted NBC NFL analyst Ross Tucker.
Penn State fans reacted in similar fashion, unleashing a barrage of NSFW comments at Franklin and the coaching staff for putting Barkley in a high-injury-risk position on a high-injury-risk return unit. Barkley returned the kick 20 yards and was not injured on the play.
There's a difference between responsibly aggressive decisions in an attempt to impress the playoff committee and/or Heisman voters and recklessly aggressive decisions that risk everything.