Vanderbilt HC, former Maryland OC James Franklin to Penn State?

Vanderbilt HC, former Maryland OC James Franklin to Penn State?
January 1, 2014, 9:45 am
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Terps drop Military Bowl, still finish winning season

(Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

There has been one consistent theme in college football this season when a major program has a coaching vacancy.

As the rumors churn about who would take the reins at USC, Texas, Washington, and Penn State, one name had a way of sneaking onto every list.

Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

Of course “Vanderbilt’s James Franklin" used to be “Maryland’s James Franklin," as the 41-year-old head coach served as the wide receivers coach in College Park from 2000-04, then offensive coordinator with the Terrapins from 2008-10.

He was also tabbed as the coach-in-waiting to succeed Ralph Friedgen, who was unceremoniously fired after an appearance in the Military Bowl in 2010, but bolted for Vanderbilt under a cloud of administrative uncertainty at Maryland.

Now, three years later, there exists the possibility that the paths of Franklin and Maryland could cross again, this time as a coach and a program in separate locations both making their debuts in the Big Ten.

The Patriot-News is reporting that Franklin is a prime target to fill the coaching vacancy at Penn State, now that Bill O’Brien has reportedly agreed to become the next head coach of the NFL's Houston Texans.

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Franklin is an attractive candidate, no doubt. He has compiled a 23-15 record in three seasons at Vanderbilt in the nation’s toughest conference. He has also coached in two other power conferences, the ACC at Maryland and the Big 12 at Kansas State. Added to that, he has a season of experience in the NFL as a wide receivers coach with the Green Bay Packers.

By all accounts, he's an engaging personality and a strong recruiter. Rivals.com says Vanderbilt's 2014 recruiting class is one of the top 20 in the nation.

It also doesn’t hurt his Penn State stock that he grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Langhorne, Pa., and played his college ball at nearby East Stroudsburg.

Penn State won’t be alone in their pursuit, though. Texas has still yet to fill its vacancy and this week’s purge of underperforming NFL coaches that helped move O’Brien to Houston is also seeing Franklin’s name thrown around in pro circles.

That list of interested teams could include the Washington Redskins.

It likely won’t be long before we see where Franklin ends up, but keep in mind this date: Nov. 1, 2014. That’s when the Terrapins travel to Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions.

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