STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State University has hired James Franklin as its next head coach.
Franklin, 41, who led Vanderbilt University to bowls in all three of his seasons there, replaces Bill O’Brien, who left the Nittany Lions after two years to coach the NFL’s Houston Texans. Penn State made the announcement Saturday morning, after the school’s compensation committee met to finalize the contract.
Franklin won 24 games with the Commodores and is a Pennsylvania native with strong ties in-state. Penn State officials met with him this week in Florida.
Despite a lack of scholarships, a bowl ban and player defections from the late Joe Paterno’s roster, O’Brien led the Nittany Lions to two winning seasons (8-4, 7-5) while restoring some tempered enthusiasm in Happy Valley.
That torch has now been passed to Franklin, who played at Division III East Stroudsburg (Pa.).
He also has coached at Washington State, Idaho State, Kansas State and Maryland. With the Terrapins, he was offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
Members of Penn State’s trustee committee on compensation met with Athletic Director Dave Joyner and others Saturday morning to discuss the contract.
“Dr. Joyner and I have stressed that our No. 1 priority in hiring a new coach was to hire an outstanding leader for our football program, one who will continue our long tradition of student-athlete success on the field and in the classroom,” Penn State President Rodney Erickson said. “We have achieved that goal. On behalf of the University and the entire Nittany Lion nation, I am proud to welcome James Franklin as Penn State’s 16th head football coach.”
Much of Saturday’s meeting, at which specific terms of the contract were laid out for trustees, was done privately. The actual vote was public.
Trustees said Franklin’s contract terms would be revealed Saturday afternoon.