All the signs are indicating that James Franklin wants to leave Vanderbilt for a bigger school, even if it’s Penn State that aren’t going to be eligible for bowl games in the next two years. However, the Nittany Lions still haven’t approved the deal officialy, and a clause in his contract with the Commodores might alter the situation completely.
According to Vandypride.com, there’s something that might stop even the richest schools to try and sign the head coach that has turned the program around completely over the last three seasons.
Franklin wasn’t happy with the situation in Vanderbilt – the state of the training facilities, the turf at the stadium, the attendance numbers which continue to be poor, and that’s not it. He got a new turf and a $31 million indoor practice facility after he asked for that kind of improvement. Vanderbilt didn’t put a buyout clause in his contract, but anyone who wants Franklin to coach for them while still under contract with Vanderbilt will have to pay for these upgrades.
There’s no smoke coming out of the Penn State compensation committee just yet. They’re supposed to announce their decision by the end of the weekend, but it seems everyone is convinced that Franklin is their man, picking him over Miami’s Al Golden and former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak in the attempt to fill the hole left by Bill O’Brien joining the Houston Texans, becoming their head coach.
Franklin has coached Vanderbilt for the last three years, leading them to a bowl game each season. Prior to his arrival, Vanderbilt have never made a bowl game in consecutive seasons. He has won nine games in both of the last two years, with the school finishing twice in the top 25 of both the AP Poll and the Coaches poll. That was a first for them since 1948. He has led the team to wins on their two most recent bowl games (Music City Bowl and Compass Bowl).
Is this a step up for Franklin? Probably, even though Penn State are still recuperating from the blows of the Sandusky scandal. No bowl games for two more seasons, but there’s no doubt Franklin, making $3.5 million, sees coaching the Nittany Lions as an upgrade in pretty much every aspect – bigger stakes, bigger crowds, more attention, and eventually, a better chance to be recognized on a national level, and not see nine wins as the most a team can achieve.