Penn State's James Franklin Addresses USC Head Coaching Rumors

Blake SchusterContributor ISeptember 15, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA - SEPTEMBER 11:  Penn State head coach James Franklin runs before the Ball State Cardinals versus Penn State Nittany Lions game on September 11, 2021 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, PA. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Penn State head coach James Franklin isn't going to come out and discuss rumors about the vacancy at the University of Southern California. He's not going to say anything about it at all, really.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Franklin said these type of rumors pop up every year and addressing each of them has become redundant. Instead, he plans to address it with the leaders of his Nittany Lions program and move forward from there.

Audrey Snyder @audsnyder4

James Franklin on USC and why he doesn’t just say “no” right now to any of the speculation. <a href="https://t.co/yBRiMJwXRX">pic.twitter.com/yBRiMJwXRX</a>

"No matter what you say, people aren't happy with," Franklin said. "So I've decided that I'mma handle this internally."

USC fired head coach Clay Helton two games into the 2021 season, ending his seven-year tenure atop the program during which he compiled a 46-24 record (36-13 Pac 12) with four bowl appearances and a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State in 2017.

Now the man who lost to Helton in that game is on the short list to replace him.

According to The Dan Patrick Show, there is "mutual interest" between the Trojans and Franklin.

Dan Patrick Show @dpshow

A source tells Dan that there's mutual interest between <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USC</a> and James Franklin for their Football Head Coaching job <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Trojans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Trojans</a> <a href="https://t.co/gSYAmUTi3B">pic.twitter.com/gSYAmUTi3B</a>

"James Franklin was at Vanderbilt, escaped Vanderbilt, then got to Penn State and, by all accounts, I think he's done a pretty good job there," Patrick said. "You know, it's the next challenge. A lot of these coaches look at it as 'well, done with this, next challenge.' Maybe that's the case. I don't know."

Patrick noted that he expects to hear plenty more names thrown out there as the coaching search goes on.

Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, has been at Penn State since 2014 and has led the Nittany Lions to a 62-28 record with four consecutive nine-win seasons from 2016 to 2019. Along the way, he's earned victories at the Pinstripe Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Cotton Bowl while finishing inside the AP Top 10 rankings three times.

That's the type of consistency USC desperately needs. Whether it'll be able to pry Franklin away from Happy Valley, however, remains to be seen.