University Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Penn State has called a press conference for Saturday at 4:15 p.m. (et) at which the university is believed to announce James Franklin as its new head football coach.
Multiple media outlets have reported that Franklin, currently the head coach at Vanderbilt, has accepted the Nittany Lions' offer to replace new Houston Texans sideline boss Bill O'Brien. ESPN.com stated Friday that Franklin will receive a multi-year contract worth as much as $4.5 million annually.
Franklin emerged as one of the most sought-after commodities in the coaching community after restoring a long-suffering Vanderbilt program to respectability over his three years there. The Commodores put together a second straight 9-4 season in 2013 and capped the campaign with a 41-24 win over Houston in the recent BBVA Compass Bowl.
Vanderbilt compiled a 9-7 record in the challenging SEC over the past two seasons despite Franklin having to navigate through higher academic guidelines then the majority of his conference peers. With a 24-15 record during his tenure with the Commodores, the 41-year-old becomes the first Vanderbilt coach to post a winning mark since Steve Sloan went 12-9-2 from 1973-74.
Franklin, a Pennsylvania native and a former standout quarterback at Division II East Stroudsburg, had also been considered a candidate for high-profile jobs at USC and Texas and received interest for the vacant head-coaching positions with the NFL's Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns.
O'Brien, who spent five seasons as an assistant with the New England Patriots prior to taking over a sanction-ridden Penn State program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, was formally named the third head coach in Texans' history last week. The 44-year-old guided the Nittany Lions to a 15-9 record amidst heavy NCAA penalties during his two seasons in Happy Valley.