Penn State announced a six-year extension for head football coach James Franklin on Friday.
Franklin, 45, is entering his fourth at Penn State and has compiled a 25-15 (14-11 Big Ten) record in Happy Valley. That mark includes a breakout year for the Lions a season ago, culminating in a Rose Bowl berth for the first time since 2008.
While nobody will argue that Franklin’s first two seasons at Penn State after leaving Vanderbilt were a smashing success from the get go, the program was still dealing with the effects of the NCAA’s imposed sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. Franklin went 7-6 in his first two years at the helm and was just 6-10 in the Big Ten. But the coach handled immense pressure last spring as part of coaching carousel talk and led Penn State to it’s best season in nearly a decade.
Not only did Franklin find success on the field in 2016, but the former East Stroudsburg quarterback continues to have success on the recruiting trail, helping bring some of the nations top high school talent onto the Penn State campus in order to compete with the likes of Ohio State and Michigan in the ultra-competitive Big Ten.
SI’s Bruce Feldman reported on Twitter that the deal will be for six years and will pay $5.8 million per season. That will stand to make Franklin the fourth-highest paid coach in college football, behind only Alabama’s Nick Saban, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Though the deal ends up being the equivalent to $5.8 million per season, it escalates from $4.3 million in 2017 ($100K more than Franklin made prio) to $6.25 million in 2022.
Franklin's new deal — over six years through 2022 — escalates from $4.3M guaranteed in 2017 to $6.25M in 2022:https://t.co/0lrZUBCL02
— Penn State Football (@psu_football) August 18, 2017
With all the particulars out of the way, here’s what the deal means for both James Franklin and the Penn State program.
Stability returns to Penn State (For the most part)
Okay so this shiny new extension by no way guarantees that James Franklin is on the sidelines as head coach in 2022, but it does go a ways in providing some stability to the program that at one time had just two coaches 61 years at one point and has had (technically) three coaches in the last six years.
The deal also helps protect Penn State in the event that Franklin keeps churning out 11-win seasons and gets pursued by the NFL, where Franklin has experience as a receivers coach. His salary is now in-line with what teams could offer for what would be a first-time NFL coach.
Make no mistake, Franklin was on the hot seat in the court of public opinion last season and this allows him to continue to preach to recruits that he will be at Penn State and will be around to keep building the program. It’s one thing to tell recruits not to pay attention to what they read, but another to have them read about an extension that will keep the coach around until at least 2022.
Keeping up with the Joneses (aka Michigan and Ohio State)
As noted above, of the three coaches that will make more money that Franklin two of them will coach in his own division. If Penn State expects Franklin’s teams to go out and compete with the Buckeyes and Wolverines for Big Ten Championships, they sure better pay the man to do so. It’s not easy to navigate the Big Ten, and Franklin did so with one of the youngest teams in the country last year. That’s impressive.
Not only does this new deal keep Franklin in-line with the Big Ten’s best coaches in terms of compensation, it also helps keep away other big-time programs who could be looking for a coach to put them over the top with a hire. Franklin loves Penn State and now that he’s compensated at or even above his coaching value at this juncture, there’s no reason for Penn State fans to worry about replacing a coach who bolted elsewhere for a while.
James Franklin’s No. 6 Nittany Lions open the 2017 season against Akron on Sept. 2 at Beaver Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.