Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin, who had previously been the "Coach-in-Waiting" for the Terrapins, is leaving College Park to take the helm of the Vanderbilt Commodores football program in Nashville. Franklin will replace Robbie Caldwell, who was forced out after a 2-10 season.
Franklin brings a resume with him that includes NFL experience with Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, and at age 38, he is considered one of the nation's top young coaches.
He was in his third season as Maryland's assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. A former record-setting quarterback at East Stroudsburg University in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania himself, he was also in charge of tutoring the Maryland quarterbacks.
Franklin is known as a tireless and renowned recruiter with a creative offensive mind. He was named the eventual successor to Maryland Head Coach Ralph Friedgen in February of last year.
He had two of his former pupils taken in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, as Darrius Heyward-Bey was selected seventh overall by the Oakland Raiders, and Josh Freeman was chosen 17th by Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was also selected as one of the 25 best recruiters in the nation by Rivals.com in the spring of 2009.
Franklin was in his second stint at Maryland, after having left for awhile to put together a successful tenure running Kansas State's offense earlier this decade. Vanderbilt should be able to recruit minority players more readily under his leadership.
Is Vandy Making a Good Hire in James Franklin?
Franklin will be only the third black head coach in football in SEC history and the second current one. Since Vanderbilt recruits nationwide, his experience all over the USA should help the program get better athletes to compete in the tough Southeastern Conference. He is also the first black coach in any major sport in Vanderbilt history.
He was a leading candidate for the opening at Pittsburgh before agreeing to take the Vanderbilt job, which was turned down by Auburn Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn earlier this week. He should be a good fit for the Commodores.
While Vanderbilt's administration refuses to confirm or deny these reports, we have confirmed from multiple sources that Franklin has told friends and associates that he has accepted the job offer. Expect an official announcement to come imminently.