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Why Doesn't James Franklin Shoot Down the Rumors? 'I Have,' He Said

Franklin addresses his strategy for handling the USC speculation and misinformation surrounding it.
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Penn State coach James Franklin on Wednesday addressed speculation regarding the vacant USC coaching job, saying "a lot of misinformation" is circling him.

At his post-practice media availability in State College, Franklin told reporters that he has addressed the situation "in detail" with his staff and team and will discuss it with recruits. Franklin's name has made several speculative lists for the USC job, which opened Monday when Clay Helton was fired.

On Wednesday, radio host Dan Patrick, citing a source, said that "mutual interest" exists between USC and Franklin.

Later Wednesday, a reporter asked Franklin why he doesn't end the speculation by saying, "I'm not interested."

"I have, I have," Franklin responded. "But I've also found and tracked this over time that, really no matter what you say, people aren’t happy with [it]. So I decided I'm going to handle this internally. I talked to our team. It happens every single year. I’m not worried about distractions in the media and with the fans, I’m worried about my team.

"I talked to my staff about it, I talked to the players about it, the leadership council in detail, but I think that’s the best approach."

Franklin said he also plans to discuss the situation with recruits, many of whom will be in State College for Saturday's White Out game vs. Auburn.

"I’m concerned about my team and my future team," Franklin said. "And when I say my future team, I‘m talking about the recruits."

Quarterback Sean Clifford, a team captain and member of the program's Leadership Council, said that Franklin discussed the issue with players Tuesday, adding, "I don't think it's anything that we need to worry about."

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In addition, Franklin said that "there's a lot of misinformation" being spread.

"The problem, in my opinion, with today's media and social media ... is, everybody wants to be the first to say things so they can get credit," Franklin said.

Franklin in 2020 signed a new six-year contract, his third at Penn State, that guaranteed him at least $38.2 million. It also includes a $4 million buyout in 2021.

Before announcing the deal, Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said that no contract would stop other programs from pursuing Franklin.

“I love the fact that Penn State has a head coach that a lot of other people want," Barbour said in 2019. "This contract, any contract, is not going to stop that. And I don't really want it to.

"I want us to continue to have the kind of success that's going to draw other people to James. But he's a Penn Stater, he's our coach, and he's going to remain that way."

Watch the video above from Franklin's post-practice media session.

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