After an up and down process that saw everything from rumors of his candidacy no longer being considered due to media leaks to fans arriving at a University Park municipal airport late yesterday evening after a night spent flight tracking, according to CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman, James Franklin will be the next head coach at Penn State.
Franklin's star has been on the rise ever since Maryland first elected to effectively pay him to go elsewhere in lieu of honoring an agreement they had with the young then offensive coordinator to succeed Ralph Friedgen as Maryland head coach. With the Terps instead hiring Randy Edsall, Franklin was hired by Vanderbilt, whom he promptly turned from a perennial SEC cellar dweller into an every year bowl team. While at Vanderbilt, the 41 year old Franklin went 24-15 in three seasons, including three bowl berths and two bowl wins.
The new Nittany Lions head coach will be tasked with succeeding the outstanding job done by now Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien at weathering the harshest NCAA issued sanctions since SMU in the 1980's. O'Brien managed to steer the Lions to an 8-4 and 7-5 record in his two seasons despite limited scholarships and a bowl ban.
With the former reduced in appeal and Franklin's reputation as a stout recruiter, it's not out of the question to imagine Penn State being "back" and in the mix in the new Big Ten East a whole lot sooner rather than later. Franklin particularly owns the D.C./Maryland/Virginia recruiting scene, and could prove a headache not just for home-region Maryland, but other Big Ten teams who've gone to that well recently.