Penn State

Analysis: Franklin connected to vacancies ☕

James Franklin hoists the Big Ten trophy. -- AP

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It’s about to be the silly season in college football where coaches get hired and fired like people going through the turnpike on their way home for the holidays.

One name constantly being thrown around has been Penn State’s James Franklin.

“Yeah, first of all, I guess it’s that time of year where all this stuffs happens. It’s that time of year. It’s the crazy, mad time of year, where these type of things happen,” Franklin said.

The praise for Franklin is well-deserved, as he’s led the Nittany Lions to back-to-back 11-win seasons and back-to-back New Years’ Six bowl games, with a third in a row not out of the realm of possibility. He has led Penn State to 44 wins over his five years at the helm and turned the program back into a national power.

This isn’t the first time his name has been thrown around for a job opening. He was linked to the Texas A&M job last season. Now, he’s being mentioned as a top-candidate for the USC head coaching position currently held by Clay Helton, according to a multitude of sources. It’s odd for Franklin to be linked to a job that’s not open, but alas, it’s college football and odd is the new normal.

Franklin has said multiple times Penn State is his “dream job.”

That’s all well and good, but money talks, and although Franklin is making $4.5 million this year, USC would likely up the ante for a coach of Franklin’s caliber. Franklin’s contract will surge to $5.35 million in 2019 with escalators based on performance, such as bowl game appearances, awards and championships.

Former Steelers great Lynn Swann, the athletic director at USC, would have the money and the resources to make Franklin a handsome deal that would far surpass what his contract dictates with the Nittany Lions, but there’s another reason Franklin could field offers and attention from other schools.

The offers are leverage for not only himself but also his assistants. It is no secret Franklin has wanted more money for his assistants and more resources for his program since his arrival at Penn State in 2014. Garnering attention from other schools will not only help Franklin elevate his profile, but he can use it as leverage to get money to keep his assistants and make improvements around the football program.

Last offseason saw the most turnover of any year for Franklin’s staff, as offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and running backs coach/special teams coordinator Charles Huff went to Mississippi State, while wide receivers coach Josh Gattis went to Alabama.

Franklin got the contract extension he desperately wanted after a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl berth at the end of the 2016 season. Penn State put its confidence in him for the future with a buyout plan that, should Franklin leave, would only require he pay the school $1 million.

Now, it’s time for Franklin to take care of his assistants by getting them the money they deserve. They’ve been solid recruiting east of the Mississippi, and while Franklin’s personality would fit in well in Los Angeles, it’s hard to see him being able to have the same sort of recruiting prowess, even at a school such as USC.

Let’s face it, Franklin is going to have a bevy of suitors as long as the Nittany Lions continue to win. As he continues to have success, it will be even more important for Penn State to keep him at the helm. That said, Franklin knows what he’s doing, and he’s going to maximize every bit of leverage he can as he tries to improve resources for his program and money for his assistants.

For now, Franklin’s talk is all about Maryland, his team’s next opponent. It’s no surprise Franklin kept his usual “we’re only focused on the game in front of us” demeanor during his weekly press conference and didn’t dare entertain the questions on job speculation.

“Like always, we’re focused on Maryland completely, 100 percent. I don’t even think it’s fair or right to even be talking about that job, from everything I understand about it, but we’re completely focused on Maryland,” Franklin said.

Until decisions are made, it’s speculation season, and it’s only beginning to heat up.

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jshephard
jshephard

I had assumed this was his agent trying to get him some more money, but those escalators will put him in the Frost/Herman/Mullen range. Makes sense if he’s getting more dough for his assistants.

Guido1960
Guido1960

Doubt if there’s anything to it, at least this year. SoCal isn’t the destination it used to be. To put things in perspective, this is the sign of a healthy program. No one ever left JoePa’s staff because no other school wanted them.

jason1937
jason1937

Why?

Coachdefense0
Coachdefense0

Franklin is a good recruiter and California is a cornucopia of talent, just saying. The grass just might seem greener, and warmer climate for sure.

Cumberbatch's Stunt Double
Cumberbatch's Stunt Double

At some point of the Equation, you have to be a good Coach with your Talent.

Bob Montgomery
Bob Montgomery

Penn State can do better. If he’s sniffing around, then let him go.

c.coyle
c.coyle

And they can do worse. Let’s say he’s going to bring them in at 9-3, plus or minus a game, most years. Most college coaches can’t do that. Those that can are somewhere else and aren’t coming to PSU. You can’t overstate the importance of stability when it comes to winning consistently over the long term. The Steelers are a great example.

Alabama had 9 losing seasons between Bryant and Saban (counting 2007, Saban, where wins were forfeited due to infractions under prior coaches).

I wish Franklin would beat OSU and Michigan more, and a National Championship would be nice, but coaching changes can lead to years of mediocrity.

BigFiddy
BigFiddy

USC is the grand daddy of the pac 12. They are number 1 there. They are the pac 12. If he takes that job he would be a rock star with his recruiting capabilities. It’s big money and big prestige. Penn State is a great job. But more often than not he will be number 3 behind OSU and Michigan. My bet is he gives this serious consideration but eventually stays at PSU.

TD
TD

PSU is not number 3 to OSU or Mich. I disagree. I’m a Pitt fan, but the PSU job is right up there with both of those programs and the recruiting rankings would confirm that. PS is a great job and a great program. Urban Meyer at OSU is a top recruiter, but Franklin, (who is a world class dick bag) is an excellent recruiter in his own right. Saying PS is #3 in the big Ten, I don’t agree with that at all.

BigFiddy
BigFiddy

Until he beats them regularly he will be number three.