Is James Franklin leaving Vanderbilt for Penn State? [UPDATE: Yes.]

This is the most reliable news in days on a story ALDLAND has been tracking closely. We will update this post as more information becomes available.  

UPDATE: And now Brett McMurphy has it too:

UPDATE 2: We’re back to things being complicated this afternoon. Caleb Azubike, sophomore defensive end, reports that he has first-hand knowledge of the situation and that “no decision has been made.”

The continued absence of an official announcement from Franklin, Vanderbilt, or Penn State circumstantially supports Azubike’s statement.

Beat writer Jeff Lockridge has more from Azubike:

UPDATE 3: There was little to report from the remainder of Thursday following the Azubike statement. I listened to David Williams’ interview on 104.5 FM in Nashville, and while he stuck to his line about Franklin currently being Vanderbilt’s coach, he also said that he expects Franklin to be on the sidelines when Vanderbilt opens the 2014 season against Temple.

McMurphy chimed back in later to say that Franklin to Penn State would be done by Saturday:

This is in line with a more extensive article from the Harrisburg Patriot-News that purports to explain what is happening during this interlude period. The reason for the delay, according to that article, is that, while Franklin and Penn State “have come to a basic handshake agreement for him to become PSU’s new coach,” Penn State still needs to navigate some red tape before it can make Franklin a formal offer, something that won’t come until Saturday at the earliest. The author concedes this gives Williams and Vanderbilt an opening to sway Franklin back to them, but his tone indicates that will be a difficult prospect.

UPDATE 4: Credible updates today (Friday) indicate that Franklin to Penn State is a done deal and will be announced at 4:15 tomorrow afternoon. This morning began with David Williams returning to the Nashville sports talk radio circuit but with nothing new to say. At the same time, I heard Chris Lee, the publisher of, on 560 AM in Nashville say that the deal between Franklin and Penn State had been done for a while, but that Franklin continued to negotiate with Vanderbilt in bad faith in order to control the timing of the announcement:

SB Nation’s Nashville-based Steven Godfrey reported that Vanderbilt officials were meeting with Franklin, who was returning to Nashville today from vacation, this afternoon to make a final push to retain the coach. The Tennessean reported that Vanderbilt megabooster John Ingram attended that meeting as well.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Penn State continued to clear out red tape, as the Harrisburg Patriot-News article linked above indicated it would:

After that, Football Scoop reported the deal Williams offered Franklin today as Vanderbilt’s last attempt at retaining Franklin:

Finally, at 2:30, Penn State announced a “major announcement” coming from the PSU president and AD at 4:15 pm tomorrow:

Barring a major shift in circumstances– perhaps the Penn State board balks at Franklin’s proximity to rape allegations directed at some of his players back in August in light of their school’s recent history with sex crimes in the football program– tonight or tomorrow morning, I anticipate this will be our final update on this story.

UPDATE 5: It ends with a team meeting. A final addendum here from Lockridge, who had the news about a Commodore team meeting at 8:00 am on Saturday, at which Franklin is expected to address the players and assistant coaches, none of which have heard anything substantive from Franklin.

Solid Vandy player-source Josh Grady and ESPN’s McMurphy confirmed Saturday morning’s farewell meeting. Tomorrow, Penn State’s football coaching search officially ends and Vanderbilt’s officially begins.

UPDATE 6: As anticipated, Franklin met with Vanderbilt players and coaches this morning to tell them he is leaving to become the head football coach at Penn State.

For whatever reason– there’s been plenty of speculation as to why– Franklin had a difficult time facing the Vanderbilt community and being forthright in explaining his intentions during this process. Even after Williams and Ingram came to Franklin’s house yesterday afternoon, Franklin could not tell Williams what some say he had been planning to do since before the Compass Bowl. Ingram reported that Franklin finally told Williams in a telephone call last night.

I grew up a Michigan State fan, and Franklin’s departure from Nashville reminds me a little bit of Nick Saban’s departure from East Lansing. The situations are not identical, of course, and I’m not keen on how Franklin appears to have handled himself here, but I am glad that Franklin, unlike Saban, stuck around to coach the Commodores to a Compass Bowl win (recap post coming, I promise), and I am thankful for the massive transformation he brought to football on West End, the magnitude of which probably cannot be understated.

Moments ago, Williams released the following statement:

I received a phone call last night from Coach Franklin saying he was going to accept a new opportunity. There is no question that James Franklin’s outstanding work has helped put Vanderbilt football on the national stage. We are extremely sorry to see the Franklin family leave our university and community, and we thank them and wish them the very best. Because of James, Fumi, Shola and Addy Franklin, our program is stronger in every way than it was just a few short years ago. While I will personally miss them, I want to assure our campus community and Commodore Nation that we are prepared to begin the process that we’ve used in the past to identify and hire our other very successful head coaches. We have every expectation to hire an outstanding new football coach to build upon the progress that has been made in recent years.

Ingram says that Vanderbilt hopes to complete its coaching search within ten days. This site likely will not cover that search in detail. Right now, I think it would be a very good outcome for Commodore football if they are able to retain offensive line coach Herb Hand, and above all, I believe in Williams’ ability to conduct an excellently managed and successful coaching search.


5 thoughts on “Is James Franklin leaving Vanderbilt for Penn State? [UPDATE: Yes.]

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