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Penn State hires James Franklin, best available coach, in spite of “crippling” sanctions

James Franklin Getty Images

The NCAA slammed the hammer on Penn State two summers ago with a four-year postseason ban, the massive loss of scholarships and tacked on an option for players to get a free transfer and a $60 million fine. At the time it was thought Penn State would never be the same again, and perhaps in a sense that will remain true. On Saturday Penn State proved the program will find a way to survive by hiring James Franklin, one of the best possible coaching candidates to be had in the most recent round of the college football coaching carousel.

The hire that had been reported for days finally became official Saturday morning after a compensation committee at Penn State voted on the contract offered to Franklin. Within the same hour Franklin met with his Vanderbilt football players and program to address them one final time. Franklin accumulated a 24-15 record at Vanderbilt over the last three seasons after leaving Maryland as an assistant coach. Franklin succeeds Bill O’Brien, who left Penn State to coach the Houston Texans.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to come home,” Franklin, a Pennsylvania native and former quarterback at East Stroudsburg University, stated. “I grew up watching Penn State football and now to be at the helm of such a storied program is a tremendous honor. It’s important to me to be a part of a University that strives for excellence in everything they do. When football student-athletes come to Penn State, they have a unique opportunity to receive a premium education while playing at the highest level of competition.”

O’Brien proved to be a solid hire for Penn State in one of the most difficult situations any football program has faced. O’Brien thrived by bringing a new look to the offense and standing up for the program in the face of tremendous adversity for the program. In two years O’Brien made the Penn State job a much more desirable and lucrative position by winning football games despite the sanctions. Two winning seasons kept Penn State’s head above water. It will now be Franklin’s task to lift the life-preserver out of the water.

Penn State still has two seasons left of NCAA sanctions, although he will have scholarships return to his new program ahead of schedule after some reconsideration from the NCAA in light of the most recent George Mitchell review. Penn State currently has two more years on their postseason ban, but there is always a chance the NCAA will scale that back at some point if the program and university continue to prove worthy of the consideration. Franklin will have to assume he inherits a two-year postseason ban but the groundwork is now laid for him to lead Penn State out of the mess left behind by the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

Details of the contract will be revealed at a later time. Franklin is scheduled to be formally introduced as the next head coach later Saturday afternoon. It is expected details of the contract will be shared at that time. A previous report suggested Franklin will make $4.5 million to become the second highest paid coach in the Big Ten behind Ohio State’s Urban Meyer.

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43 Responses to “Penn State hires James Franklin, best available coach, in spite of “crippling” sanctions”
  1. @Cereal_22 says: Jan 11, 2014 9:58 AM

    HUGE….WE ARE ! !! !

  2. El Pollo Loco says: Jan 11, 2014 10:00 AM

    excellent hire PSU should be thrilled they landed him.

  3. dhlions says: Jan 11, 2014 10:03 AM

    Script from a midwest phonecall…

    “Urbz? It’s Brady.”
    “What’s up Brady?”
    “Did you just shit your pants too?”
    “Yeah, yeah I did…”
    “Should we call D’Antonio?”
    “I… I need a hug.”

    WE ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. wingslax35 says: Jan 11, 2014 10:06 AM

    PENN STATE!!!!!!!!!

  5. vegasdestroyer says: Jan 11, 2014 10:09 AM

    Six years. That’s good news for BOB as they worked together at Maryland. BOB can apply for a job on Franklin’s staff after he’s fired.

  6. normtide says: Jan 11, 2014 10:22 AM

    Dhlions, I doubt any other b1g coach is freaking out that bad. He is a great hire, but has a lot of work to do.

  7. dhlions says: Jan 11, 2014 10:25 AM

    @normtide

    Really? I thought I tapped the right phone lines too.

  8. normtide says: Jan 11, 2014 10:33 AM

    Give the man 2 years. He brings a different culture then most. I don’t doubt he can get psu where you want it, but let sanctions wear off first. On Jan 11, 2014 9:25 AM, “CollegeFootballTalk” wrote:

    > dhlions commented: “@normtide Really? I thought I tapped the right > phone lines too.”

  9. thefiesty1 says: Jan 11, 2014 10:36 AM

    Good hire, I was hoping he’d take the Texas job instead but, Strong will do just fine.

  10. rascalmanny says: Jan 11, 2014 10:36 AM

    My only wish is that Penn beats Ohio.

  11. lbijake says: Jan 11, 2014 10:38 AM

    Great Hire. Sorry for Vandy’s loss. If he puts in a good 5 years, stability for program and should be back to elite status.

  12. dhlions says: Jan 11, 2014 10:38 AM

    @norm

    Agreed, just allowing myself to get caught up in the excitement. Hard not to.

  13. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Jan 11, 2014 10:49 AM

    boom

  14. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Jan 11, 2014 10:53 AM

    Good point — we gotta feel a bit for Vandy here. They lost an absolutely awesome coach — so that is tough. Total condolences to those guys — they run a strong academic ship too, so we have to respect that as well.

    But as for Penn State, this is huuuuuuuuuge. We get a high quality coach/person – who makes a high voltage education a major priority, plus he can bring it on the field and the recruiting trail.

    One word: JACKPOT.

  15. derekgorgonstar says: Jan 11, 2014 11:08 AM

    Meh. You’re still the program that put football over the anguish of innocent children. Given the misplaced defensiveness, and lack of contrition by Penn State fans, that hasn’t changed.

    Ensuing comments by PSU fans to prove my point forthcoming….

  16. bballnut50 says: Jan 11, 2014 11:14 AM

    Welcome to the Big Ten…good luck…you will need it…no more low expectations coaching a little sisters of the poor…

  17. dhlions says: Jan 11, 2014 11:17 AM

    @derekgorgonstar

    And the people who were responsible for those atrocities have been, or are being, brought to justice. I see no reason why those who are as culpable as you or I shouldn’t be allowed to move forward.

  18. ds796933 says: Jan 11, 2014 11:31 AM

    Derek, if you actually read the facts the football staff didn’t put football over the anguish of children – and you are a real asshole for saying that. Also to insist that all PSU fans lack contrition is FURTHER ASSHOLE STATEMENT – you must be completely proud of your lack of intellect. Go brush your tooth.

    Franklin is a great hire, and the Lions may struggle a bit still, but this guy will get the best from all of his players like O’Brien did. From what I understand he is a great recruiter also. Much to the lament of all of the haters we will get to see the survival mode transition into the more and more success mode. Maybe not next year, but urban you have a real ass kicking coming – get ready for it.

  19. theageofquarrel says: Jan 11, 2014 11:52 AM

    I guess the petition by the hippy didn’t work

  20. babyfarkmcgeezax says: Jan 11, 2014 12:02 PM

    The fact that so many Penn State fans were way more upset about their football coach getting punished for enabling a f*cking child rapist, for Christ’s sake, than about the children actually being raped and their lives ruined, tells you exactly how their priorities lie. As a Penn State fan myself it was (and still is) sickening to see these people act this way.

  21. dmvtransplant says: Jan 11, 2014 12:21 PM

    @babyfarkmcgeezax

    If you are actually a fan maybe you should read articles about the team other than this site. Paterno was cleared of any wrong doing, so I don’t see where your comments are coming from?

    http://articles.mcall.com/2013-09-04/news/mc-pa-sandusky-prosecutor-paterno-coverup-20130904_1_joe-paterno-sandusky-prosecutor-jerry-sandusky

    @ All

    I’m glad to see the university moving in the positive direction.

  22. halbert53 says: Jan 11, 2014 12:25 PM

    I don’t always root for PSU , but when I do they are usually playing tOSU, UM or ND.

  23. dhardy8207 says: Jan 11, 2014 12:36 PM

    Guess those 333 signatures weren’t enough to keep PSU from hiring him…(cough cough)

    Hate it for Vandy, he did well there. Maybe he’ll be able to maintain some stability at PSU and they’ll rebound from the nightmare of what has plagued them…

  24. govols724 says: Jan 11, 2014 12:49 PM

    I like how people are telling Urban Meyer to watch out. urban lost one game in 2 years and has multiple nat’l championships. James franklin did a respectable job in the few down years of the SEC east. Penn St will remain behind Ohio St as they have for years. Oh and I hope he is clean with this rape investigation going on in Nashville. Otherwise, “we are”…..going to look like morons.

  25. theageofquarrel says: Jan 11, 2014 12:51 PM

    babyfarkmcgeezax says:
    Jan 11, 2014 12:02 PM
    The fact that so many Penn State fans were way more upset about their football coach getting punished for enabling a f*cking child rapist, for Christ’s sake, than about the children actually being raped and their lives ruined, tells you exactly how their priorities lie. As a Penn State fan myself it was (and still is) sickening to see these people act this way.

    I highly doubt you are a PSU fan.

  26. brutusbuckeye2011 says: Jan 11, 2014 12:55 PM

    rascalmanny says:
    “My only wish is that Penn beats Ohio.”

    I suspect you will not get your wish. Penn is an Ivy School and Ohio is in the MAC. It is very doubtful they will ever play each other.

  27. brutusbuckeye2011 says: Jan 11, 2014 12:56 PM

    Opps! Meant to say Penn is an Ivy League school.

  28. dirtyharry1971 says: Jan 11, 2014 1:02 PM

    He might stay 2 years and then leave just like O”brien did but really I don’t know why anyone who is considered to be a hot coach would want to come to PED State. If they didn’t have such a soft non conference schedule they would be lucky to win 3 games in conference each year, LUCKY.

  29. buckwheat19 says: Jan 11, 2014 1:04 PM

    @ds796933:
    Don’t be too hard on Derek, he probably went to one of those schools that the UNC Prof just wrote about where the football players read at a third grade level.

  30. kastout11 says: Jan 11, 2014 1:05 PM

    It sounds like he is really excited about bring at PSU. It looks as if he might actually stay, even if he has the success that I think he will have. A conference titli within 5 years. I really cannot stand Urban Meyer and would like to see Penn State beat them .

  31. babyfarkmcgeezax says: Jan 11, 2014 1:19 PM

    theageofquarrel said

    “I highly doubt you are a PSU fan.”

    So in order to be a Penn State fan I have to blindly support Paterno even though he did virtually jack shit to stop Sandusky? You do know the man wasn’t a god, right? It might do you some good to take a step back and realize football isn’t the most important thing in the world.

  32. stixzidinia says: Jan 11, 2014 2:02 PM

    If you are actually a fan maybe you should read articles about the team other than this site. Paterno was cleared of any wrong doing, so I don’t see where your comments are coming from?

    ——————————–

    No, he wasn’t. He died before he could face the music. If it were up to me we’d exhume the corpse and prop him up right next to the other three in court. We know for a fact he knew about 1998. PSU fans can try and spin those emails all they want. Their spin-jobs don’t pass the smell test. Sandusky wasn’t even aware he was being investigated when that email was sent. There’s only one “coach” it could possibly be inquiring about the status of the investigation. Employers in this instance don’t go around sharing the details of an investigation involving molestation of children with the special teams coach. But they would share it with Paterno.

    And having known about 1998 he still did the bare minimum when told about the next incident. And sorry, Spanier isn’t a law enforcement officer and notifying him doesn’t constitute notifying the authorities. And “after talking it over with Joe” they decided not to call the police at all. Paterno even consulted with the PSU attorney to make sure his legal bases were covered. And then proceeded to watch Sandusky have an office in the football building, have full access to all the facilities, draw a pension, and sit in a luxury box for games.

    At the bare minimum, Paterno knew what happened and chose to look the other way. And we all know what the results were.

    And don’t try and say Paterno wasn’t the most powerful man on campus. His “bosses” tried to fire him and he wouldn’t allow it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    PSU fans haven’t shown an ounce of contrition. They’ve done nothing by make excuses for their precious “JoePa” since day one.

  33. joewilliesshnoz says: Jan 11, 2014 2:43 PM

    Way to tell it, like it is, Stix.

  34. sportsguy3434 says: Jan 11, 2014 7:29 PM

    So Florida lost their top two replacement prospects in Strong and Franklin. Oops. Timing is everything…

  35. derekgorgonstar says: Jan 11, 2014 8:52 PM

    Stix, perfectly stated case, well done sir.

  36. harryrjones412 says: Jan 12, 2014 12:53 AM

    Regarding the “Coach wants to know” phrase in an e-mail about the 1998 incident. I understand that Paterno wanted to be called “Joe” and not “Coach”. However Sandusky always wanted to be called “Coach”. A reasonable conclusion is that Curley’s e-mail referencing “Coach wants to know” refers to Sandusky wanting to know. Hopefully, this will be clarified in the upcoming trials of the three Penn State Administrators.

  37. manzoa says: Jan 12, 2014 7:49 AM

    Morons and losers still talking about this as if they actually knew something. The Freeh report was total bullshit and is discredited by its failure to actually interview anyone involved. Stix you’re an uninformed dbag. As for Franklin… He was NEVER a serious candidate for the Texas job nor was he under serious consideration for any NFL jobs. All crap being floated by Franklin’s agent. He got some wins against SEC teams with losing records like FL and took Vandy to the Alpo Dog Food bowl. “Awesome” hire.

  38. stixzidinia says: Jan 12, 2014 10:45 AM

    Manzoa,

    Get your facts straight, you deluded Joepologist. Freeh approached EVERYBODY and offered the opportunity to speak. They DECLINED. There was no power of subpoena so they couldn’t be forced. But they will at the trial. And you’ll be in tears once it all comes out.

    And i notice you couldn’t refute a single point I made. Truth hurts. LOVE IT.

  39. stixzidinia says: Jan 12, 2014 10:54 AM

    Regarding the “Coach wants to know” phrase in an e-mail about the 1998 incident. I understand that Paterno wanted to be called “Joe” and not “Coach”. However Sandusky always wanted to be called “Coach”. A reasonable conclusion is that Curley’s e-mail referencing “Coach wants to know” refers to Sandusky wanting to know.

    —————-

    It would be “reasonable” for Sandusky to ask his employer of all people about the status of a police investigation involving him and child molestation? Seems to me he’d be anxious to keep his employer as in the dark as possible about something like that…….as would anybody else.

  40. morebrocato says: Jan 12, 2014 12:41 PM

    Interesting…

    Franklin gets signed for 6 years at 4.5 million per year.

    He just signed a contract that out-earns Joe Paterno at the university despite his 61- year presence there.

  41. baredon says: Jan 12, 2014 1:54 PM

    Two things…

    1) PS did good to get a quality coach.

    2) Franklin has 2 yrs to recruit and build a program. If anyone complains about football games lost, he can point to the “bad” NCAA for all the sanctions against the school…

  42. jschmus says: Jan 12, 2014 3:47 PM

    Love to hear the PSU fans still deny Paterno didn’t know anything. Living in Pa, and NOT a PSU fan, it absolutely amazes me. I love to hear all the crap about, “he was the maker of men”. The true Paterno came out of the end. It’s just a little bubble up there in State College.

  43. epps2 says: Jan 14, 2014 12:33 AM

    Welcome Coach Franklin and your family! I wish you nothing but the best! As a long time Penn State fan I am so excited about the upcoming year. I think Coach OB was great and did great things and I know you will as well.

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