John Beale/Associated Press
When Bill O’Brien left Penn State to accept the head-coaching position with the NFL’s Houston Texans, James Franklin’s name quickly surfaced.
It made complete sense.
Franklin spent the last three years developing one of the hottest coaching names in the college football landscape. Every time a big position opened, Franklin’s name seemingly found its way into the conversation.
Ultimately, Penn State became the big-fish program to offer and land Franklin.
What the program gets as a reward is a coach who already has tremendous inroads on the recruiting trail.
Franklin started developing a reputation as an up-and-comer with his recruiting pedigree. He has great familiarity with the area having been the offensive coordinator—and briefly the head-coach-in-waiting—at Maryland.
A high-energy recruiter, Franklin should be able to routinely land key in-state players in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, he should be able to steal high-profile prospects in the pivotal New York/New Jersey area and the Maryland/Washington, D.C. area.
Franklin will also serve as a tremendous promoter for the Penn State brand for a program still in desperate need of positive attention in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Best of all, Franklin is a proven winner. In three seasons, Franklin did what few thought possible: lead the Commodores to consecutive appearances in the year-end AP Top 25.
It marked the first time since 1948 that Vanderbilt finished in the final Top 25 in back-to-back seasons.
In 2012, Franklin led Vanderbilt to its first nine-win season since 1915.
Vanderbilt also reached three consecutive bowl games under Franklin. This year the Commodores beat Tennessee, Georgia and Florida in the same season for the first time ever.
Franklin would not necessarily have topped this list had another program hired him.
Based on Franklin’s familiarity with the area and his strong track record, though, Penn State hiring him ranks atop this year’s college football hires.