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

Thursday January 9th, 2014

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,'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.

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