Vanderbilt’s James Franklin to leave for Penn State

james franklinVanderbilt head coach James Franklin is expected to shortly take the job opening at Penn State University.

CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman had the breaking news this morning of Franklin’s departure, per a source. Franklin was expected to make a decision about Penn State on Thursday after being offered the position. He reportedly had turned down further interview requests.

Franklin, 41, will replace new Houston Texas head coach Bill O’Brien, who coached for two difficult seasons in the wake of the Joe Paterno scandal. A very outgoing personality, Franklin had built a contender at perennial doormat Vanderbilt with back-to-back 9-4 seasons in the SEC. He was 24-15 overall in his three years.

Prior to taking the job in Nashville, he spent three seasons as offensive coordinator for Maryland and two for Kansas State. He had one season of NFL experience as a wide receivers coach for Green Bay in 2005. Before that, he was on the Maryland staff as wide receivers coach for five years.

Just last week, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported that Franklin — along with Auburn’s Gus Malzahn — could be a possible sleeper head coaching candidate for the Cleveland Browns. Based on Chip Kelly’s success with the Philadelphia Eagles, several NFL teams have been inquiring on the up-and-coming college coaches. As NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport shared, the Browns never lined up a Franklin interview in time.

The jump to Penn State is still quite a big promotion for Franklin. Based on his success with the Commodores, the move should place some fear into the hearts of Ohio State Buckeye fans, at least slightly. O’Brien did positive things with the program of late, but this should maintain their Big Ten momentum going forward.

As for the Browns, news broke earlier today that they’re reportedly interviewing San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt on Saturday.

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