On Sunday afternoon, Florida State fired head coach Willie Taggart. With that, the first big domino of the college football offseason fell and coaching silly season is officially underway.
Yes, Rutgers fired head coach Chris Ash last month. But, let’s be honest, Rutgers is barely an FBS program let alone a Power 5 one. So the Scarlet Knights canning their coach does not move the needle in the coaching search world.
In addition to the Seminoles job another major job is expected to open up with this one being out West. Sooner rather than later, USC head coach Clay Helton is expected to be relieved of his duties.
There were rumblings last season that Helton was going to lose his job. When these rumblings began, one of the first names linked to USC was James Franklin. To no surprise, Coach Franklin’s name is starting to pop up in relation to the USC job once again.
While some folks may wonder why Franklin would be interested in USC, it is easy to see why.
With the right coach, there are few jobs in the country better than USC. The Trojans are a blue blood program that sits in one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. They are also in the lesser of two divisions that make up the second worst Power 5 conference. Any coach with a pulse, and Franklin has much more than that, should make USC a yearly College Football Playoff contender.
Let’s not forget the Seminoles, either. Like USC, Florida State sits in one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. While they Seminoles have to play Clemson every year, Franklin already has a similar yearly match up with Ohio State. The rest of the ACC, however, unlike the Big Ten, is very weak outside of Clemson. Additionally, Franklin has been listed by the odds makers in Vegas among the favorites to potentially land the FSU job.
As Coach Franklin name pops up as a potential candidate at other schools, it is time for Sandy Barbour and company to make sure he is taken care of. It is time to get another contract extension worked out with Franklin. Preferably, it would get done before USC fires Helton, or any other major coaching changes occur.
In August of 2017 Coach Franklin signed a contract extension with Penn State. This extension put him under contract through 2022, and made his average yearly salary $5.3 million. Great compensation for a coach that was coming off an 11 win, Big Ten Championship season.
Since signing the extension Franklin has continued to win. The Nittany Lions 28-6 in 34 games since this extension was agreed upon. This includes currently owning an 8-0 record and a top 5 ranking.
Entering the 2019 season, Franklin was the 11th highest paid coach in the country. Due to recent contract extensions/hirings around the country coaches such as Tom Herman, Gus Malzahn, Dan Mullen, and Jeff Brohm, all of whom are lesser coaches than Franklin, now make more money than the Nittany Lions head man does.
More than his own salary, Franklin could have other interest on his mind. Like every other coach in the country, odds are, Franklin would like to add to the pool of money available for his assistant coaches.
Additionally, he has never been afraid to express the need for improved facilities in Happy Valley. Many of these improvements have occurred or are currently in the works. However, as Franklin expressed on the Notorious B1G Podcast last week, there are still areas where the Nittany Lions are trailing their competition and Franklin wants this to change.
Penn State’s program and facilities have grown leaps and bounds under Franklin. However, the improvements need to continue. The next step in that process is for Franklin to get the financial commitment(s) that he desires from the Penn State administration.
I do not doubt that Franklin loves Penn State and wants to be in Happy Valley. I also do not doubt that if he does not get what he wants from the Penn State administration he will look elsewhere for a destination where he believes he has a better opportunity to win a national championship. After all, he has made it very clear on more than one occasion that his ultimate goal is to become the first African American head coach to win a national championship.
Franklin is one of the 5-10 best head coaches in college football. Barring something crazy happening such as Urban Meyer coming out of retirement, Penn State is never going to do better than Franklin. Please, Ms. Barbour and crew, start to negotiate a new contract with him now. Make sure James has what he wants/needs to keep winning at Penn State, and to make sure he stays at Penn State for a long, long time.