James Franklin Reportedly Top Head Coaching Candidate for USC

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IDecember 1, 2013

USA Today

The Ed Orgeron era at USC is reportedly set to come to an end as early as this next week, with Vanderbilt's James Franklin serving as the top candidates to replace him. 

ESPN's Joe Schad provides the news:

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and Boise State coach Chris Petersen are top candidates for the USC opening and the search may be completed by the middle of this week, according to sources.

USC has made it known to interim coach Ed Orgeron that they value his contribution to the program and would like him to stay with the program in some capacity.

Schad later reported that Peterson was no longer a candidate to take the USC head coaching position:

Boise State's Chris Petersen has withdrawn from USC coaching search after mutual interest.

— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 2, 2013

Orgeron was originally seen as a long shot to permanently take over the Trojans' head coaching job when he replaced Lane Kiffin following the school's lackadaisical 3-2 start. But after leading the team to a 6-2 record in its last eight games, he established himself as a legitimate option for the job. 

Nevertheless, it would appear the Trojans are intent on moving in another direction. ESPN's Arash Markazi gives some thoughts about the 52-year-old's future in Los Angeles

Keeping Orgeron isn't make-or-break for the next USC head coach. It's one of many scenarios being discussed.

— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 1, 2013

Orgeron obviously would like to see what other offers he might get. Either way USC wants this squared away sooner rather than later.

— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 1, 2013

Coach O's popularity may work against him for the next head coach. Imagine the "Coach O" chants from student section after the first loss.

— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 1, 2013

Franklin is terrific recruiter and leader who has enjoyed major success despite being at a small program.

In three seasons at Vanderbilt, the 41-year-old Franklin has gone 23-15, taking the school to three bowls—including a victory in the Music City Bowl last yearafter it went to just one in the 28 seasons previous. 

According to Markazi, the 9-4 Trojans are expected to hire a new head coach before the bowl game, which will come sometime at the end of the month.