James Franklin Has 1 Foot Out the Door | Column

Opinion posted November 1, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Zech Lambert

Typically people think of the Four Corners or maybe the Mason-Dixon line when having a foot in one state and another foot in a different state.

It’s not often, though, people can have one foot in Pennsylvania and the other foot in either California or Louisiana.

However, James Franklin seems to fit that description.

Penn State’s leader has been rumored to become USC’s next head coach for years, and every time a coaching vacancy opens somewhere in the college football world, Franklin somehow seems to be attached in some way, shape or form.

This year, those rumors seem to be a little different, though, and perhaps carry a bit more weight than usual.

Franklin has been given numerous opportunities to denounce his intentions to leave Penn State, yet time and time again he fails to provide a convincing answer.

Rather than going the route of Mike Tomlin and putting any rumors to bed with one swift, firm statement, Franklin instead mentioned that there are a lot of “moving parts.”

Who’s to say for certain, but maybe some of those moving parts include the hiring of a new agent for Franklin, which just so happened to line up perfectly with the timing of rumors linking him to other jobs around the country.

Whether he’s using these rumors for leverage or not is another question, though.

He’s done it before to get a new contract from the university, but how many times will athletic director Sandy Barbour continue to give a man who consistently fails to be the best team in the Big Ten East a raise before finally letting him go?

According to oddsmakers at Sportline, Franklin has the best odds to be the next head coach at LSU, while Sports Betting Dime has him tied with Luke Fickell for the best odds to be the Trojans’ new head honcho.

On top of all the rumors, Franklin’s focus seems to be significantly waning, too.

Prior to Penn State’s biggest game of the year, and its last fighting hope at possibly making the Big Ten Championship, Franklin got the upcoming opponent wrong.

He mentioned his focus being solely on Illinois, despite falling in embarrassing fashion to the Fighting Illini at home in a nine-overtime upset the week prior.

It’s hard to even argue it was a slip of the tongue, as he also referred to Ohio State’s stadium as the “Big House.”

Obviously, we can’t be in Franklin’s head and hear his thoughts, but it certainly seems from an outside perspective that the rumors are beginning to take a toll on the coach, who’s seemed from the outside looking in to have mentally checked out for the Nittany Lions.

Certainly, there are reasons for Franklin to turn down these top-tier college coaching jobs.

He’s recruited one of the best classes in the country for 2022, which includes 247 Sports’ top quarterback in 5-star Drew Allar, as well as the top running back in the country in Nicholas Singleton.

However, jobs in such talent-saturated areas like Southern California or Louisiana are tough to turn down.

Whether Franklin stays or leaves is still very much up in the air, but as the calendar flips to November, a lot of signs are pointing toward the 2021 season being Franklin’s final one in Happy Valley.


Zech Lambert is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email zbl5146@psu.edu.

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