James Franklin Named Head Coach at Penn State

Tim KeeneyContributor IJanuary 9, 2014

USA Today

Penn State was looking for a big name to replace Bill O'Brien, and it managed to land one of the most sought-after head coaching candidates in America.

Updates from Friday, Jan. 24

Steve Berkowitz of USA Today reports that Penn State paid Vanderbilt $1.5 million to buy out James Franklin's contract:

In addition to giving new coach James Franklin one of college football's most lucrative contracts, Penn State agreed to pay $1.5 million that Franklin owed Vanderbilt for early termination of his deal there, Penn State disclosed Friday night.


Updates from Saturday, Jan. 11:

The Nittany Lions announced Franklin on Saturday as their head coach:

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Pennsylvania State University has selected James Franklin, a Pennsylvania native who is one of the nation's most successful and dynamic coaches, as the 16th head football coach in its storied 127-year history.

Penn State President Rodney Erickson and Director of Athletics Dave Joyner announced Franklin's appointment today. The enthusiastic and passionate Franklin led Vanderbilt University to unprecedented success in his three years as head coach, winning nine games in each of the past two years, and finishing in the Top 25 in consecutive seasons, both for the first time in school history.

Franklin will be introduced on the Penn State campus today at 4:15 p.m. Franklin succeeds Bill O'Brien, who was named head coach of the National Football League's Houston Texans earlier this month.

Tony Moncuso of GoPSUSports.com provided this picture of Franklin inside Beaver Stadium:

Franklin gave a comment to ESPN's Josh Moyer:

ESPN's Brett McMurphy later reported on the length of Franklin's contract:

Franklin received a six-year deal worth $27 million, a source told ESPN's Brett McMurphy. Franklin's $4.5 million annual salary is second in the Big Ten only to Ohio State's Urban Meyer.

Penn State would later release official numbers via CSTV.com. His salary increases every year through 2019. His buyout money gets significantly smaller each year, going from $5 million in 2014 to just $1 million in 2019.

GoPSUSports Tweeted this quote from Franklin, who talks about his Pennsylvania roots:

ESPN Big Ten details some of Franklin's goals for the program and reveals his plans as they pertain to PSU's coaching staff:

CBS' Bruce Feldman provides Franklin's recruiting plans:

Penn Live's Greg Pickel reports that Franklin is already active on the recruiting front:

---End of Update---


Updates From Friday, Jan. 10:

Penn State's official Twitter feed reports a major announcement to come on Saturday:

Brett McMurphy of ESPN reports details of the deal:

Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean says there is a team meeting that will take place on Sunday:

ESPN's Josina Anderson reports that Vanderbilt has a forthcoming meeting of their own taking place:

---End of Update---


According to Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports, former Vanderbilt leader James Franklin, following the Commodores' second straight nine-win season and bowl victory, is expected to agree to terms with the Nittany Lions:

Feldman's report was confirmed by ESPN's Brett McMurphy:

McMurphy later said the deal will be finalized on Saturday:

Despite reports linking Franklin to the job, Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams told Andrew Stockey of WTAE TV in Pittsburgh that he hasn't been informed of a change:

Mark Dent of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says Williams believes Franklin will be coaching at Vanderbilt for the opener:

Audrey Snyder of The Patriot-News provides more details from Williams:

Franklin, who is 41 years old and a Pennsylvania native, resurrected the Vanderbilt program. Taking over for a school that went 4-20 in the two years preceding his hire, he led the Commodores to an impressive 24-15 record and three bowl appearances in three seasons.

In a conference like the SEC, which is widely regarded as the most difficult in the nation, and in his first stint as a head coach, Franklin did a marvelous job with less talent, and it wasn't surprising that he drew such heavy interest. 

JC Shurburtt of 247Sports mentioned that those qualities make him a perfect hire for Penn State:

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, one official from the Houston Texans called Franklin, whose name also came up for open NFL jobs, as a "star on the rise":

But the Nittany Lions were lucky enough to land him, and he has some big shoes to fill. 

O'Brien took the job at Penn State when no one else wanted to, leading the Nittany Lions to a 15-9 record over the past two seasons. In 2012, he won the Big Ten Coach of the Year award and Bear Bryant Award for national coach of the year. 

Still, as difficult as it may be to live up to O'Brien's job, Franklin has at least two seasons to build around stud quarterback Christian Hackenberg. He also gets some solid players back on the defensive side of the ball and will have 80 scholarships to work with in 2015.

There is always some type of fallout when colleges switch head coaches (4-star quarterback commit Michael O'Connor has already opened up his recruitment), but the young and full-of-energy Franklin should have little trouble selling kids on the program.

Even if he does hit some bumps along the way, he has proven the ability to win at one of the highest levels in college football, continually racking up victories despite Vanderbilt typically landing near the bottom of the SEC in recruiting rankings.  

Only time will tell for sure, but this looks like a positive move for all parties involved.