Is James Franklin, Maryland OC, the New Pitt Panthers Head Coach?

Dave DeBlasioCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2010

Update: As of December 15, 2010, James Franklin has not been named head coach at Vanderbilt.

From the Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams said no official offer had been extended and no agreements had been made.

According to the Washington Post and ESPN, James Franklin will be named head coach at Vanderbilt possibly today. The Pederson search-death-spiral looks like it is churning away, throwing out each serious Pitt head coach prospect.

James Franklin, Maryland's offensive coordinator, assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach is a virtual unknown to Pitt fans. He is in line to succeed Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen and has been identified by as the leading candidate to replace Dave Wannstedt as head coach at Pitt.

This information comes on the heels of West Virginia outfoxing Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson for the services of Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen will be named offensive coordinator under Bill Stewart in 2011, then head coach the following season. This story has been confirmed by the West Virginia Gazette.

Without definite information from Pederson, it's possible Holgorsen was using Pitt to lure West Virginia and his longtime friend West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck to hire him. It's also possible Pederson was not able to meet Holgorsen's salary demands or lost out because West Virginia doesn't require coaching candidates to jump through as many hoops as Pitt does. 

The fact that Holgorsen was the No. 1 candidate for Pitt until yesterday afternoon, despite denials by Pitt athletic officials and their sources, makes the story of Nordenberg's rejection of Holgorsen over "life style" issues quite plausible.

Pederson has talked all along about hiring a stand-up family kind of guy.

If Franklin is the leading candidate he offers a solid resume to the Pitt program. He quarterbacked the East Stroudsburg, Pa., football team from 1991-94 and he has pro and college coaching experience. The vast majority of his coaching experience is with the offense.

After a stint at Maryland from 2000-04, Franklin served as wide receivers coach for the Green Bay Packers in 2005 and offensive coordinator at Kansas State from 2006-07. He then completed an internship with the Minnesota Vikings for the 2008 season before returning to Maryland after the 2008 season.

Even if Franklin is interviewed but not hired, he will satisfy critics of Pederson and Pitt who want an African-American candidate in the mix.

If Franklin is hired, he will be the first black head football coach in Pitt history.