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The Philadelphia Inquirer
How Franklin wound up as Penn State's coach
By Joe Juliano; Inquirer Staff Writer
 
Before he introduced James Franklin as Penn State's new football coach, athleticdirector Dave Joyner eagerly pointed out that the hunt to find the man the university's search committee wanted didn't take long at all.

"I said [Jan. 2] that it would be days, not weeks," Joyner said, recalling that the 2011-12 search to find Bill O'Brien took 40 days. "So it's one week and two days - nine days - so let's get that out of here so you [reporters] are not going to ask me about that."

The six-person committee unanimously approved Franklin, 41, head coach for the last three seasons at Vanderbilt, to take over for Bill O'Brien. But before the handshakes and the welcomes and the platitudes, there were the usual twists and turns associated with any high-profile coaching search.

According to sources and media reports, five candidates interviewed with the committee - Miami coach Al Golden (Jan. 4), Franklin (Jan. 5), former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak (Jan. 5), San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman (Jan. 6), and Penn State interim head coach Larry Johnson (Jan. 7). It was not known whether the committee reached out to speak with anyone else.

Golden, a former player and assistant coach under Joe Paterno, loomed as the top candidate right away. In fact, some in his camp, perhaps Golden himself, were disappointed he was not offered the job that day, but the committee told him that it had other interviews to conduct and that the panel would be back in touch.

Even though Golden issued a statement the next day saying he was not a candidate for another job, he spent last week with a chance to become Penn State's coach in the event the interview with Franklin fizzled or contract talks went nowhere.

Neither happened. While the committee had to wait to speak with Franklin until after Vanderbilt's Compass Bowl win over Houston, it was extremely impressed with him. Even with interviews remaining, Franklin became the clear No. 1 choice.

However, a concern was that Vanderbilt, led by athletics director David Williams, would do anything to keep Franklin from leaving. Thus Penn State, which spoke several times with Franklin, had to come up with a contract agreeable to not only the coach but also to the university's board of trustees.

Penn State president Rodney Erickson accompanied Joyner and other representatives to Franklin's vacation home in Destin, Fla., where a very involved discussion took place.

"We spent a lot of time talking about a lot of different subjects," Franklin said Saturday. "I felt like they conducted an extremely thorough interview, and I was able to ask a lot of different questions on a lot of different subjects."

An offer was made at the meeting. Though it was reported that Franklin wanted time to consider it, in reality the university needed time to place an advertisement in the Centre Daily Times giving a one-day notice of a conference call by the board's compensation committee.

Penn State missed the deadline for Thursday's newspaper, so the notice ran Friday. The committee unanimously approved the contract Saturday morning, and Franklin had the job.

Recruiting gains. After saying he would move quickly on recruiting, Franklin got off to a good start. Quarterback Michael O'Connor, a four-star recruit from Canada who was reconsidering his commitment after O'Brien's departure, posted on Twitter that he was "100 percent committed to PSU" after speaking with Franklin. O'Connor said he would enroll Monday in spring-semester classes.

In addition, two of Franklin's commitments at Vanderbilt - 6-foot-6, 265-pound offensive tackle Chance Sorrell of Middletown, Ohio, and 6-5, 230-pound defensive end/linebacker Lloyd Tubman of Louisville - said they had switched over to the Nittany Lions, according to several reports.

jjuliano@phillynews.com

@joejulesinq

 
Photograph by: JOHN BEALE / Associated Press
 
January 13, 2014
 
 
 

 

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