Why did James Franklin get such a high profile and sought after gig like Penn State? Why give him a prestigious job at a college football mega-power? You’re giving the keys to one of the biggest brands in American sports over to James Franklin? What has really accomplished? What are the big Vanderbilt victories that put Commodore football and James Franklin on the map?
Well, James Franklin went 24-15 with Vandy, finishing fourth in the SEC all three years. And he’s below .500 (11-13) in conference play. Wow, lots of sizzle to this hire, huh? He won the BBVA Compass and the Music City Bowls…EXCITING! And guided Vanderbilt to top 25 finishes in the AP Poll both years. So why is Penn State reaching down to entrust the program to this guy?
Well, what James Franklin did at Vanderbilt is actually kind of a big deal…for Vanderbilt. There’s nothing special about James Franklin. It’s just that there’s even less special about Vanderbilt football. Franklin led Vanderbilt to a bowl game in each of his first three seasons as head coach. Vanderbilt had never previously participated in a bowl game in consecutive seasons. In his second season (2012), the Commodores finished 9–4 and ranked in both polls for the first time since 1948 (and the first ranking in any week since 2008). It was just the third nine-win season in school history. Additionally, Vanderbilt’s fifteen combined wins in Franklin’s first two years in charge was the Commodores’ highest total since 1926–1927.
So again, standards for success are very low in Nashville. And of course, Al Golden was the first choice. Not to mention Bill O’Brien bailed rather abruptly, putting PSU into this mess in the first place. Tomorrow is when all the details of the deal are supposed to be finalized and announced; as you no doubt have heard. I just think Penn State can and deserves much better than this. The hire reminds me of September, when we heard those b.s. rumors about Texas and USC coming after Pat Fitzgerald. At a time when Fitz was 26-31 in conference play for his career. You have to think that 11-13 in SEC play is more impressive than 26-31 in Big Ten play. And yet, I’m still very much unimpressed with the James Franklin hire.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments discussing: Illinois, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Bears and Bulls on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)Follow paulmbanks