James Franklin, who guided Vanderbilt to back-to-back nine-win seasons, was formally announced as the new head football coach at Penn State. He will be introduced Saturday afternoon at a press conference scheduled by the university.
Penn State had been looking for a new coach ever since Bill O’Brien left for the NFL to become the new head coach of the Houston Texans. Several names came up in the Nittany Lions search including Miami’s Al Golden and Greg Schiano, who was recently fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Franklin became a hot commodity after turning Vanderbilt into a consistent winner. The Commodores, not known as a football powerhouse and competing in the football-frenzied SEC, have been to three consecutive bowl games under Franklin. Prior to his arrival in Nashville, the school had been to three bowl games in its entire history.
After a 6-7 initial season, Franklin guided Vandy to back-to-back years of nine wins, including this season which was capped off by a win over Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl. In Vanderbilt’s last 19 games, Franklin guided the Commodores to a 15-4 record against some of the best competition in the country.
Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, will have his hands full taking over a program that is still feeling the effects of the whole Jerry Sandusky ordeal. Penn State still has two more years of sanctions from the worst scandal to ever rock a university. The Nittany Lions cannot win the Big Ten title and cannot go to a bowl game until the 2016 season.
Still, Franklin, who built Vanderbilt into a respectable program, will continue to build upon what O’Brien started. Ironically, the two worked together when they were both part of Ralph Friedgen’s staff at Maryland in the early 2000s.