In August, Penn State rewarded James Franklin with a new contract that makes him one of the highest-paid head coaches in college football. If this latest report is accurate, they may have to up the contractual ante to retain him.
It’s not exactly a state secret that Kevin Sumlin entered the 2017 season on the hot seat at Texas A&M, what with a middling 35-20 overall record and just a 15-17 mark in SEC play. Against teams from the West division, he was just 9-15 prior to this season.
Following the historic season-opening collapse to UCLA in the 2017 opener, one A&M regent very publicly called for the immediate firing of Sumlin, who was still the seventh-highest-paid head coach in college football in 2016. That came on the heels of Sumlin’s boss, athletic director Scott Woodward, very publicly putting his head football coach on the hot seat this offseason by stating that Sumlin “knows he has to win and he has to win this year.”
At 4-2, Sumlin still remains somewhat on the periphery of the hot seat talk halfway through the year, although giving Alabama its toughest test of the season has somewhat quieted the talk (for now). That said, though, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com writes that “Penn State officials are preparing for Texas A&M to make a run at hiring James Franklin should Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies part ways.” Franklin, of course, spent three years in the SEC as the head coach at Vanderbilt before bolting for Happy Valley after the 2013 season.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Dodd’s report is the fact that Franklin would owe PSU just $2 million in a buyout if he leaves the Nittany Lions for another job after this season. At the opposite end of the buyout spectrum is A&M, with Dodd writing that Sumlin “is reportedly guaranteed the remainder of his contract if fired without cause.”
Earlier this year, A&M’s former athletic director washed his hands of Sumlin’s contract.
After the report started gaining traction, both Penn State and its head football coach responded.
“Nothing has changed from the commitment that we made to Coach Franklin and the commitment James made to Penn State just before this season started,” the university said in a statement, with Franklin taking to Twitter to address the talk.
Western Kentucky offensive lineman Dennis Edwards says he is going to finish his college football career with the same coach he started it with. In a message posted on Twitter, Edwards announced he will reunite with head coach Jeff Brohm, now at Purdue.
As a graduate transfer, Edwards will be eligible to play immediately this fall, which will be a nice boost to the depth at the offensive line position for Purdue. Unless he changes position, however, Edwards will likely be a backup center to provide depth. Kirk Barron returns to anchor the center of the line, one that loses just one starter from a year ago. But for a program that is still in the early stages of a rebuilding plan under Brohm, padded the depth on the offensive line can be instrumental in the sustained success for the program.
Last week, quarterback Joe Burrow announced his commitment to LSU as he prepares to move on from Ohio State. Today, LSU made it officially official.
LSU has announced it has officially signed graduate transfer Burrow for the 2018 season, making the quarterback transfer eligible to play immediately this fall. Burrow will also have two years of eligibility with the Tigers, which could be a potential boost to the entire LSU offense in 2018 and potentially in 2019.
Burrow was a four-star recruit in Ohio State’s Class of 2015, but he could not get ahead of J.T. Barrett on the depth chart. He did, however, serve as Barrett’s backup in 2016 and would have carried the same responsibility in 2017 if not for a broken bone in his right hand.
At LSU, Burrow will jump head first into a quarterback competition with Myles Brennan, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse. However, it is expected Burrow will soar to the top of the depth chart fairly quickly, and in time for LSU’s season opener in Arlington, Texas against Miami on Labor Day weekend. Nothing will be a given though, so Burrow needs to get to work right away and establish himself as the best option for Ed Orgeron and the Tigers.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has said he wants to make a spring trip for the football program an annual event. Staying true to his word, Harbaugh announced Michigan will be heading to South Africa next spring.
“We’re going to (South) Africa,” Harbaugh said in a radio interview with WTKA-AM in Ann Arbor, according to The Detroit Free Press. “We’re going to Johannesburg and Cape Town and we’re going to do a safari. How about that? How about a safari?”
This spring, Michigan visited Paris. Last year, the team took a trip to Rome. This all started becoming a thing after opposing football coaches in the south caused an uproar over Michigan packing up the program and heading to Clearwater for some spring football practices.
Each of the past two trips for Michigan have been covered by donations from some big-money donors to the program. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and The Graham Group founder Don Graham split the bill for Michigan’s trip to Paris this spring. Kotick also took up the expenses for Michigan’s trip to Rome in 2017. It is unknown how Michigan is covering the pending expense of a trip to South Africa at this time, but if donors with deep pockets keep taking care of the charges, there is no reason not to take advantage of the travel opportunities.
In the meantime, Harbaugh has plenty of time to pick out a good safari hat to go with his finest pairs of khaki pants. Of course, he’ll probably stick to the blue Michigan cap to keep with his style abroad.
Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson is reportedly seeking to transfer to a new program, according to multiple reports Monday morning. The sophomore, a former five-star recruit in Clemson’s Class of 2017, is believed to have a desire to play for a couple of Big Ten schools.
Purdue and Northwestern have emerged as the top two potential destinations within the Big Ten, according to various reports. Johnson is an Indiana native and would figure to step right into a possible starting job with either the Boilermakers or Wildcats if he were to transfer to either Big Ten school. Of course, Johnson would have to wait until 2019 to begin playing for Purdue or Northwestern or any other FBS school due to NCAA transfer rules.
Despite Johnson’s talent and potential, it appears he got stuck in a tough spot on a Clemson roster that is overflowing with top-tier talent. With Kelly Bryant essentially cemented as Clemson’s starting quarterback, Johnson would have been waiting for his time to shine at the position, assuming he beat out the competition for the job. Clemson just added a five-star quarterback in the most recent recruiting class with Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence has already enrolled and played well in the Clemson spring game, offering a glimpse to the future of Clemson’s offense once Bryant moves on.
Johnson appeared in seven games as a freshman for the ACC champion Clemson Tigers last season, in which he completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 234 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Zerrick Cooper, also a freshman last fall, appeared in three more games than Johnson as both backing up Bryant.
Purdue and Northwestern would both figure to be good landing spots for Johnson. Northwestern is preparing for one final year with Clayton Thorson at the helm, and Johnson could potentially slide right in once the 2019 season comes around after sitting out the year as a transfer. Purdue would also give Johnson a chance to shine in an offense coached by Jeff Brohm, which could rack up all kinds of attractive passing stats.
Johnson will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2018 season. He also has a redshirt option to spare.