Posted January 09, 2014

Reports: Penn State expected to name Vanderbilt’s James Franklin its new head coach

James Franklin, Penn State Nittany Lions, Vanderbilt Commodores
James Franklin

James Franklin could reportedly replace Bill O’Brien as Penn State’s new coach. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Penn State is expected to name Vanderbilt’s James Franklin as its next coach, CBSSports.com’s Bruce Feldman reports. The news was also reported by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.

Franklin, who just completed his third season with the Commodores, would replace Bill O’Brien, who left the Nittany Lions last week to take over the NFL’s Houston Texans.

According to other reports, however, Franklin has yet to decide whether he’ll leave for Penn State. Commodores defensive end Caleb Azubike told Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean in Nashville that he talked to Franklin on Thursday afternoon and a decision had not been made. Reports also stated that Franklin told Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams that he hadn’t yet accepted an offer to coach elsewhere.

Franklin’s name has come up frequently on the coaching carousel following his rejuvenation of Vanderbilt. After taking over for interim coach Robbie Caldwell before the 2011 campaign, Franklin led the Commodores to a 24-15 (11-13 SEC) record and, for the first time in school history, three straight bowl appearances. He won nine games in each of the last two seasons and finished his Vanderbilt tenure with a winning record (2-1) against in-state rival Tennessee.

Still, Franklin was constantly fighting an uphill battle in one of the country’s deepest conferences. His Commodores competed in the SEC East alongside Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Moreover, Vanderbilt had trouble selling season tickets in both of the last two seasons, a situation that noticeably irked Franklin.

Franklin was a firebrand during his tenure in Nashville, particularly on the recruiting trail. His outgoing personality could work wonders at Penn State, a program steeped in tradition and success. Franklin is also a native of Langhorne, Pa., and he played quarterback at East Stroudsburg from 1991 through ’94.

33 comments
GeorgeSingleton
GeorgeSingleton

One of our three daughters did two degrees at Vanderbilt, BA (Magna Cum Laude & MEd).  I did my freshman year at VU (long ago) but graduated from Alabama in 1962.  Nashville my home of growing up.  


This said Coach Franklin is the best football coach ever at VU, and I was a boy when Billy Wade was a VU All American, later Green Bay and Chicago Quarterback way back in early 1950s.


Penn State, if they succeed in getting Franklin, will have gotten a gentleman, a great family focused man, and about the best football coach in the nation.  Turning Vanderbilt's football program around is still incomplete but if needs be another top flight coach...at an even higher salary, can keep the momentum up.


Vandy beat Georgia, SC, and such during Franklin's 3 year tenure so allusions to other SEC tough teams are invalid and meaningless.  IF Franklin stays he can be both a SEC Division and Conference champion in the coming next three years at Vandy.


Good luck to the Penn State football program.  My wife's family has 4 Penn State graduates some aged like me, others graduated within the past 10 years.  My wife is from Yardley, PA as an aside and was chief cheer leader at Pennsbury High.


Happy 2014 to you all!

6marK6
6marK6

1. Franklin is a solid coach and should do a great job.

2. O'Brien did a great job as well. 


Get past the anger, Lions fans. 

RichardCHamilton
RichardCHamilton

"a program steeped in tradition and success"

That's why he will leave. Oh yes, he was an All American quarterback at my alma mater, East Stroudsburg University.

ianlinross
ianlinross

Don't do it James, you'll be soooorrry.

dandogwood
dandogwood

Penn State will get better with Franklin who is way better than the miserable slob bald Billy.

rentistoohigh
rentistoohigh

the reason for the hush hush and misdirection is because Penn State officials have also been secretly wooing Mike Shanahan to be the next JOEPA

AlbertE.Bannister
AlbertE.Bannister

Why would he leave Vanderbilt for PSU?  Hopefully Vandy steps up and pays him more as $$$ us the only reason he would leave

mjt424
mjt424

This is a good hire. Not sure all whom was interested in the job so there may have been better candidates but Franklin won at Vanderbilt. For those assailing this as a weak hire, I'd say again - Vanderbilt! SEC! Perennial dog! He will do good things at PSU and I say this as an outsider as my favorite team in a Pac-12 school (and dog!).

x72
x72

Dumb move James, Vandy is the better & cleaner program.

x72
x72

Continued irrelevance for PSU.

JohnnyBuckeye
JohnnyBuckeye

Oh Rickapolis. 1986 called and they want this very joke back, and they wanted me to tell you that you are more than welcome to come back and live in the proper year.

JBub
JBub

Congrats, James!

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Franklin is a winner. He'll lead PSU back to competing for the national championship once all the sanctions are over. He is a first rate coach. To take Vanderbilt to the success it's had is remarkable. Maryland could have had him and they went for Randy Edsall. Yes, THE Randy Edsall. Best of luck to the new coach. 

GeorgeSingleton
GeorgeSingleton

I was at the Jan. 4, 2014 BBVA Compass Bowl game, Vandy vs. Houston, at Legion Field here in Birmingham, where we live.  Coach Franklin pulled it out of the hat smoothly to defeat U. of Houston by two touch downs with extra points!  Well done job y James Franklin.

EricBenghaziPorvaznik
EricBenghaziPorvaznik

@6marK6No anger from this Nittany faithful towards Franklin, who I only fear won't last much longer than O'Brien. Oh, the irony with the NCAA egregiously punishing PSU for an alleged "football culture" only to have their sanctions lead to their latest coach bolting for the NFL, leading to the poaching of other college's coaches. Nicely played, Dr. Emmert. Idiot.


Frustrated anger with the asinine behavior of the AD and Board of Trustees, though? Got plenty of that.

kw2012
kw2012

@ianlinross So will Penn State. How many decades did Joe Pa coach at Penn State. 4? Oh yeah, 46 years. Coach Franklin has had 11 jobs in 18 years. If he does well at Penn State, he will be gone in 3 years. If he does poorly, he will be gone in 3 years. If he does a mediocre job, then he would have been better off idolized at Vandy in the SEC. 


Franklin has one goal IMHO. Pro coach.

kw2012
kw2012

@rentistoohigh Also, Penn State has to officially post the position which is being done today so the earliest it can close is tomorrow.

TheSconnieNation
TheSconnieNation

@AlbertE.Bannister Better facilities, lower academic standards, fans that actually show up to games (can't even sell out 40k at Vandy), and lesser competition than he faces in the SEC.


Why oh why would he leave?

AlbertE.Bannister
AlbertE.Bannister

@Rickapolis- granted the B10 is weak so down the road PSU may actually win the league but I can't see a B10 school winning a playoff game and actually making the championship game

Delegator
Delegator

@kw2012 @ianlinross Talk about living in the past…yeah, Paterno coached for 46 years. Leaving aside the thought that he should have retired at least 5 years earlier, that kind of tenure just doesn't happen anymore. Look at the Big 10 coaches and their year of hire:


Ferentz (Iowa) 1999

Fitzgerald (Northwestern) 2006

D'Antonio (Michigan State) 2007

Pelini (Nebraska) 2008

everybody else: 2011 or later


This isn't just the Big 10, either. The SEC has exactly 4 coaches hired before 2011, the Pac-12 just 2, and so on. Some long-tenure coaches are winners, some are just a comfortable fit for a school that is happy with a bowl game every third year.


Whether that is good, bad, or indifferent, that is reality. Putting expectations on a coach that he will not only win, but will stick around for decades while doing so, is completely unrealistic.

Annabel
Annabel

@Rickapolis@JohnnyBuckeye1.  Johnny is in his own world (as to be expected from a "nut").  2.  Edsall didn't do much the first 3 years at UConn but he went 9-3 in his 4th year.  Let's see how his 4th year at UMD turns out.  But agree that, in hindsight, they should have held on to Franklin, but who knew?

EricBenghaziPorvaznik
EricBenghaziPorvaznik

@AlbertE.Bannister@TheSconnieNation More scholarships being reinstated already, back to full before the original target date. I also see the sanctions being further reduced before the fall, to the point Penn State will be bowl eligible this coming season. If not, though, playing in Ireland against Central Florida better than a bowl game. Maybe not as much money, sure, but the team (and fans) won't complain.

6marK6
6marK6

@Annabel @AlbertE.Bannister @TheSconnieNation Yeah, but the loss of scholarships will start to have a greater impact now and next year. Now you are starting to see fewer and fewer upper classmen as a result of the earlier sanctions.