After two mediocre seasons in Happy Valley, albeit with teams still hampered by NCAA sanctions, Penn State head coach James Franklin guided the Nittany Lions to an 11-3 record previous year, a Big Ten title, and a berth in the Rose Bowl. The stability provided by Franklin's contract helps more than just the community, but also the team's future with recruits.
The deal is reportedly for six years at $5.8 million per year.
Fast forward 12 months and Franklin is one of the nation's highest-paid coaches. Last season the Nittany Lions rebounded from a ragged and injury-filled start with a nine-game winning streak that included a come-from-behind victory in the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin. Penn State Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said that was never the case, telling the Altoona Mirror last September that Franklin "is not on any hot seat".
In 2016, Franklin was honored as the Sporting News National Coach of the Year and the Woody Hayes National Coach of the Year, as well as the Dave McLain Big Ten Coach of the Year and Associated Press Big Ten Coach of the Year.
With all the particulars out of the way, here's what the deal means for both James Franklin and the Penn State program.
Each of the following years Franklin's pay will increase by $300,000 until is maxes out in the final year of the deal for $6.25 million in 2022.
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"My family and I are very thankful to be a part of the Penn State community", Franklin said in a statement. Penn State finished 11-3 and No. 6 in the country after starting 2-2, capping the program's best season in the post-Joe Paterno era with a 52-49 loss to Southern California in the Rose Bowl.
However, he still doesn't crack the top five list of highest paid coaches.
The possibility of Franklin getting a new contract was hinted as a possibility going into Friday's Penn State Board of Trustees meeting. "And I think he's a ideal fit for Penn State". They also went 11-2 in 2008.
In three years at Penn State, Franklin has compiled a 25-15 record, taking over a program that had been rocked by NCAA sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
Franklin, who directed Penn State to the No. 5 CFP and No. 7 final ranking in 2016, has mentored 44 players who've matriculated to the National Football League during his initial six years as a head coach. It's not easy to navigate the Big Ten, and Franklin did so with one of the youngest teams in the country past year.
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