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  • After leading Penn State to its first outright Big Ten title since 1994 and a Rose Bowl trip, James Franklin is getting a raise.
By Bruce Feldman
August 18, 2017

Penn State’s compensation committee approved a new contract for head coach James Franklin on Friday. Sources tell SI that Franklin’s new deal will be for six years at an average of $5.8 million per year. His buyout is $2 million this year.

The 45-year-old Pennsylvania native led Penn State to the Big Ten championship last year, the school’s first outright conference title since 1994. The Nittany Lions went 11–3 despite being one of the youngest teams in college football and playing in the toughest division in college football, the Big Ten East. Franklin has gone 25–15 over three seasons in State College after taking over a program that was rocked by NCAA sanctions and scholarship reductions. With Franklin’s new deal, three of the six highest-paid coaches in college football are in the Big Ten East (with Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh being the others).

In 2016, Franklin was honored as the Sporting News National Coach of the Year and the Woody Hayes National Coach of the Year, as well as the Dave McLain Big Ten Coach of the Year and Associated Press Big Ten Coach of the Year.

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Before coming to Penn State, Franklin turned Vanderbilt from a punchline to a program that finished in the Top 25 in two of his three seasons there, posting consecutive 9–4 seasons. The Commodores hadn’t finished in the Top 25 since 1948. They also went to a bowl game in all three of Franklin’s seasons after going 4–20 in the two seasons before he arrived in Nashville.

Franklin has landed top-25 recruiting classes each of the last four seasons, including back-to-back top-20 classes at Penn State.

Franklin’s original deal contained a lump-sum termination provision, meaning that if Penn State wanted to fire him the school would owe the full amount of his contract and would have had to pay it all within 60 days.

Penn State opens the 2017 season against Akron on Sept. 2 in Beaver Stadium.

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