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Franklin-To-Penn State Rumors Continue To Heat Up (And Why We Think It Would Be Less Than A Perfect Marriage)

james-franklin-podiumYesterday, a number of Vanderbilt assistant coaches began following a number of Penn State recruits on Twitter.  All Hell broke loose soon after.

Now, Vandy’s coaches are following the recruits of other schools, too, but the timing of the PSU adds was interesting to say the least.  And that’s led to more reports that Franklin and his staff are the frontrunners to take over the Nittany Lion program.

USA Today reported yesterday afternoon that Vanderbilt’s coach “would be inclined to take the head coaching position at Penn State if offered.”  This from “a person familiar with his thinking,” which is a title we’ve never seen kicked around before.  Doesn’t mean that we doubt it, only that it’s a new way of saying, “someone close to the coach.”

We’ve stated our surprise with Penn State’s chutzpah in considering a coach who could possibly have his name dragged into an ongoing sexual assault case.  While Franklin likely had zip to do with any after-the-fact cover-ups by four then-VU players, it’s still a possibility that defense attorneys might call on Franklin for information.  USA Today makes mention of the situation as follows:


“This (Vandy) season was marred to some degree by an June incident in which four Vanderbilt players were charged with raping an unconscious 21-year-old at a dormitory and a fifth pleaded guilty to helping cover it up.  All five were dismissed from the team.

Franklin would take over a Penn State program still operating under scholarship limitations and other NCAA sanctions related to the Jerry Sanduscky scandal.”


For his part, Franklin remains mum on the topic of Penn State.  But back in Nashville, Commodore AD David Williams — who deserves a ridiculous amount of credit for unearthing Franklin in the first place — says he’ll “do everything I can to make sure” that Vandy’s coach remains Vandy’s coach:


“I expect James to be our football coach.  I’m planning on it.  We’re looking at facilities.  We’re working on some stuff.  I have all thoughts that he’s going to be our football coach.”


One Vandy student has also started a petition online at begging Franklin to stay at the West End school.  Courtney Graziano ended her petition by writing:


“To Coach Franklin: I beg you to stay a Commodore



So far 500 people have “signed” the online document.

And speaking of signatures, The Tennessean reports that (at least) a pair of Vanderbilt commitments might re-open their recruitment at the last minute should Franklin bolt.  Quarterback prospect KJ Carta-Samuels said, “I just don’t know (that) without Franklin if it’s the same family, the same vibe.”  And running back commitment Mikale Wilbon had this to say:


“I’ve been getting a lot of calls about that (from other schools).  If he does leave, I don’t know what I’m going to do.  It would stun me because when I committed last spring, he was telling me he wanted to make it into a dynasty there, like Nick Saban at Alabama, like Joe Paterno at Penn State.  If he winds up leaving, I don’t know.”


Meanwhile, at least one columnist covering Penn State has made it clear that he believes Franklin should not be the next Nittany Lion coach.  Franklin would be wise to consider the rationale behind the column from’s David Jones:

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WOW Headlines – 1/3/13

Louisville upset Florida 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl Wednesday night
The SEC is now 3-3 in bowl games this season with Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Alabama yet to play
Alabama C Barrett Jones says he will play in Monday’s BCS Championship Game against Notre Dame
With a win on Monday, Alabama’s seniors will have won three national titles, more than Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden combined for in their entire careers
Florida juniors Matt Elam and Sharrif Floyd will forego their senior season and entire the NFL draft
Butch Jones’ staff at Tennessee will be paid just over three million years this year
Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner: “I know some media people are Tennessee fans. They disguise themselves Memphis fans.”
Tennessee and Memphis play Friday night – Pastner says he has no interest in continuing the series
Follow SEC news year-round at and on Twitter at

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Doyel: Spurrier Needs To Worry About Coaching, Not The Media

Gregg Doyel can get ready for some ugly emails from South Carolina Gamecock fans.  Here’s guessing he won’t care because Doyel’s a guy who lives for ugly emails and insults.  He’s made a career out of it.

In his latest column, Doyel first tackles Ron Morris’ Penn State comment from a week ago.  It seems he took it the same way I did last week (which might be the first time I’ve agreed with Doyel on anything as well as the first time I’d ever defended Morris):


“‘This,’ Morris said on the radio, ‘is how things like Penn State happen.’

Morris wasn’t saying a pedophile will strike South Carolina, or that Spurrier would allow a pedophile to run unchecked. Morris was saying, quite clearly, that it’s a bad idea for a coach to become too powerful at his school, just as Joe Paterno grew to be too powerful at Penn State. That’s what Morris meant.

But it was a bad analogy — wrong time, wrong situation — and Spurrier flipped.

And in the process, Spurrier is confirming Morris’ overall point.”


Doyel writes that Spurrier’s remark last week that good things are about to happen because he’s complaining and his bosses are complaining, too, suggests Morris might just lose his job.  (We’ll pause for Gamecock fans to cheer.)  Doyel doesn’t think that’s a good thing.

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Hog A.D. Long In The Hot Seat, Too

Not only has Bobby Petrino left a mess on Arkansas AD Jeff Long’s desk, but he’s warmed the seat beneath his boss’ rump, too.  Long is now in a wildly unenviable position.

He can either:

A)  Choose to keep Petrino, face a possible lawsuit from Jessica Dorrell if she decides to go that route, and take a beatdown from the national media, allowing the school’s reputation to be tarnished.


B)  Choose to fire Petrino, clean the university’s name, and tick off the vast majority of the Razorback fanbase.

I happen to live in East Tennessee.  I’ve also lived in Kentucky, Ohio and North Carolina for those who want to claim I’m a fan of one team or another.

But as an East Tennessean I can tell you that there is a sizable chunk of Tennessee’s fanbase that still doesn’t believe former hoops coach Bruce Pearl had to be fired.  They literally don’t get it.  Can’t grasp it.  Can’t wrap their heads around the fact that a coach facing a three-year show-cause penalty — with a staff also facing a one-year suspension — had to be let go.

And as a former resident of Columbus, Ohio, I can tell you that more than a few Ohio State fans have told me they’re angry that Jim Tressel was relieved of his duties by the OSU administration.  Nevermind the five-year show-cause penalty the NCAA handed him.

Hell, fans literally rioted in State College, Pennsylvania when Penn State University fired Joe Paterno… despite the fact that the school — thanks in part to Paterno’s lack of action and lack of follow-ups — is now facing potential lawsuits out the proverbial ying-yang.

Oh, if Long does what it looks like he’ll have to do for the sake of the University of Arkansas from a legal standpoint — and that’s axe Petrino — he’ll be pilloried by folks in plastic Hog hats who just wanna win football games.

Andy Staples of weighs in on Long’s situation in an excellent piece right here.  Heck, if we’d seen this piece first we might’ve just linked you to it and not bothered writing our own detailed explanation of Petrino’s troubles moments ago.

In our piece, we listed a number of men who were undone by cover-ups.  But there was another former SEC football coach who covered up and survived anyway.  Take it away, Mr. Staples:

“Long is not the first athletic director to face this type of predicament.  In May 1999, Alabama AD Bob Bockrath’s coach, Mike Dubose, lied about a relationship with a secretary after she filed a harassment complaint.  Ultimately, the truth came out and the school had to pay the women $350,000.  Did Alabama fire DuBose?  Nope.  It fired Bockrath.  (DuBose went on to win the 1999 SEC title and himself fired in 2000 for losing.)”

If there’s someone in a spot as tight as Petrino’s today, it’s his boss, Long.  And Petrino’s the man who put him there.

Now thousands of Atlanta Falcons and University of Louisville fans can correctly say to Long, “Told you so.”

Long’s gamble on Petrino paid off for a while, but boy that bubble has burst today.

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SEC Headlines – 1/23/12

Just a few headlines from around the league for you on this Monday…

1.  In hiring Scot Loeffler, Gene Chizik found an O-coordinator who can “develop a quarterback to get them where we needed him to be to win championships.”

2.  The Arkansas football team wants two more wins next season.

3.  MSU’s comeback win at Vanderbilt on Saturday required their best half of basketball all season.

4.  Riding a two-game win streak, Ole Miss hopes to keep things rolling with a pair of home games this week.

5.  Florida’s bench players are getting better.

6.  Vince Dooley and Mark Richt put out statements regarding Joe Paterno’s passing last night.

7.  Up next for Kentucky: Georgia at home, then LSU on the road.

8.  Steve Spurrier on Paterno: “It was sad how it ended, but he was a great person and coach.”

9.  Cameron Tatum broke out of a slump to help lead Tennessee to its upset win over UConn.

10.  Vanderbilt’s defense disappeared against MSU and as a result so did the Commodores’ eight-game win streak.

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Magnolia State Coaching Rumors (Plus Hearsay From Across The SEC)

There’s already one coaching vacancy in the state of Mississippi.  According to the rumor mill, there might be another SEC school in the Magnolia State that will have to go looking for a new coach soon.

Starting with the known opening at Ole Miss, Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora continues to be the focus of most of the talk.  Makes sense.  In four years at USM he’s taken the Golden Eagles from back-to-back 7-6 seasons to 8-5 all the way to 10-2 and the C-USA Championship Game this year.  Before moving to Hattiesburg, Fedora was an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and at Florida (under Ron Zook).

His proximity and reputation as a solid recruiter make him a natural leader for the job Archie Manning and crew are trying to fill.  But his name is also popping up in connection with other jobs — North Carolina for one.

For now, Fedora isn’t talking about about the Ole Miss job… and that’s to be expected.  His team is prepping for unbeaten Houston in the C-USA title bout.

Meanwhile, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Mark Hudspeth — a former Dan Mullen assistant at MSU — is believed to be rising up the UM charts.  Reports claim he interviewed with the Rebels’ search committee Sunday in New Orleans.

While a post claimed Arkansas State’s Hugh Freeze had already agreed to take the Memphis job — totally false — the school has actually released a statement saying that Freeze does not have permission this week to speak with other schools.  The Red Wolves face Troy this weekend.

Freeze was an assistant in Oxford under Ed Orgeron and he reportedly made a good impression on folks in the UM administration.

For Fedora, Hudspeth and Freeze, Ole Miss is a step up.  Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is also on the Rebels’ watch list, but would he really want to get his start at the bottom of the SEC West at a school that’s never been to the SEC title game?  The money would be good and there’s nothing wrong having the letters S-E-C on the resume, but Smart’s career might be better aided by him starting elsewhere.

Plus, how many Nick Saban acolytes have gone on to great success in coaching?  The most high-profile former Saban aides are Jimbo Fisher (Florida State fans are mad at him), Derek Dooley (Tennessee fans are mad at him), and Will Muschamp (Florida fans are already mad at him).  All of those coaches are relative newbies on the big stage, but that’s hardly a track record of great success.

For his part, Saban says Smart is ready.  “Leadership is really an important part of being a head of anything, a business or whatever it is, and I think Kirby is a great leader,” Saban said yesterday.  He also said he thinks Smart will make “an outstanding head coach.”

We still believe Ole Miss would be wise to check out one of the coaches who beat the Rebels this year — Sonny Dykes from Louisiana Tech.

The Mississippi job might not be the only opening in the Magnolia State if the rumor-mongers and messageboarders are correct.  Mississippi State’s Mullen has emerged as one of the most talked about candidates to replace Joe Paterno at Penn State.

MSU fans went down this road with Miami rumors last year only to hang onto their coach.  Would Mullen make the move to State College this year?

On the surface, Penn State is one of the best college football jobs in America.  It’s the top school in a fertile recruiting zone and the Big Ten isn’t as cutthroat and tough as the SEC at the moment.

Below the surface, someone’s going to have a major clean-up job on his hands — and we still don’t know what the NCAA might due to the Nittany Lions’ program.  Plus, while Joe Paterno’s name is now tarnished, don’t forget, PSU students rioted to keep him.  And Penn State fans are used to winning big — over the long haul — with Paterno.  They won’t be patient regardless of the circumstances.

Other nuggets:

* Vanderbilt’s James Franklin has had his name attached to the Penn State job as well.

* Gus Malzahn — once believed to be the leader for the North Carolina head coaching job — has reportedly dropped a bit with Auburn’s recent offensive struggles.

* At Tennessee, fans are waiting to see if Derek Dooley makes any sudden moves on his coaching staff.  Rumors emerged last yesterday that offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand had been let go.  Naturally, those rumors were false.

* Joker Phillips is safe at Kentucky, but there’s much speculation about who from his staff might be let go following the Cats’ first non-bowl season in six years.  Offensive coordinator Randy Sanders — who’d done an excellent job until this year — might be a fall guy since defensive coordinator Rick Minter has just wrapped his first year in the Bluegrass State.  Minter’s defense struggled as much as Sanders’ offense until the season’s final two weeks.

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Let The Meyer-To-Penn State Rumors Begin

Under normal circumstances, it’s not wise to try and follow a legend.  But replacing Joe Paterno might not be as tough now as it always appeared that it would be.  And whoever steps in at State College will inherit a team that’s currently got just one loss on its record (to Alabama).  In other words, the cupboard won’t be bare and there are no NCAA vultures circling overhead (as would be the case at Ohio State).

So guess whose now being mentioned as Paterno’s successor by anyone and everyone today?  Yep, former Florida coach Urban Meyer.

The Philadelphia Inquirer:  Who will take the reins of Penn State’s football program?

“Former Florida coach Urban Meyer appears to be the overwhelming favorite to become the new head coach.”

The Gainesville Sun:  Could Meyer go to Penn State?

“I do miss (coaching).  I miss a lot of things about it, but I also am really enjoying another part, that’s I get to watch my kids play sports.”

The Orlando Sentinel:  Could former Florida coach Urban Meyer replace Joe Paterno at Penn State?

“Surely, Meyer will be high on Penn State’s list.  But with a scandal unlike any seen before in college sports, will replacing Paterno be something that Meyer wants?”

That is a key point.

Students rioted last night over the news that Paterno had been fired (and they should have been tear-gassed and billy-sticked as a result of flipping a news van over and endangering lives over a football issue).  But students would forget JoePa in heartbeat and profess their undying loyalty to Meyer if he signed on with the Nittany Lions.  Such is youth.

The big issue for Meyer might be the administration.  Who will be the new athletic director?  Who will be the new president?  When will those jobs be filled permanently and what will Meyer know of the men hired as his superiors.

From purely a football standpoint, Penn State appears to be in better shape than Ohio State.  But in terms of who Meyer would be working for… well, that’s a bit more murky.

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Paterno To Step Down After Outback? Not So

Heading into this weekend’s Outback Bowl against Florida, rumors have popped up on the internet that Joe Paterno might retire after the game due to his failing health.

Not so, says his wife.

“Who started the crazy rumors?” Sue Paterno asked.  “He’s fine.  No one has to identify who starts it.  We don’t even know where it starts.  It’s just lies.  I mean, he’s (supposedly) in the hospital when he’s sitting at the table for dinner.  He wasn’t even near the hospital.”

His daughter also said that the Outback Bowl is not her father’s planned final game.

If the Paterno family is being truthful, the game will mark just one coach’s retirement — the 46-year-old Urban Meyer’s… not the 84-year-old Paterno’s.

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Carter: Top 10 Wins Of The Urban Meyer Era

Urban Meyer's final game as Florida's head coach will be the Outback Bowl in Tampa on New Year's Day. Meyer will face legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno – major college football's all-time winningest coach – for the first time.

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