Update: Monday, 10 a.m.
Apparently Texas is ending its flirtation with Urban Meyer, according to Chip Brown, who does mention James Franklin as being “among the coaches Texas has researched.”
But it’s this line in Brown’s story from last night that could be very telling, as the school considers whether it wants to move on from coach Tom Herman:
Paying a $25 million buyout to let go of a four-year coach who is 31-18 (.632) and replacing him with a three-time national championship coach like Meyer is one thing. Paying a $25 million buyout without a clear-cut alternative to Meyer is another thing, the source said. Donors would step up for Meyer. It’s unclear if donors would be willing to do the same for anyone else, sources said.
Franklin’s buyout at Penn State is more than $30 million, and as pointed out in our original story below, it’s hard to see Texas paying that kind of money unless everyone there would be on board with hiring him. Given PSU’s struggles this season, it’s tough to see the Longhorns’ decision makers and money folks being universally enamored with Franklin.
Original story Sunday:
Now, Franklin’s name is being mentioned as a strong possibility for the Texas job. The following is from Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman from Saturday:
Texas AD Chris Del Conte will be at UT-Kansas State game today. UT still leaning toward firing Tom Herman. Urban Meyer is still Target No. 1. But "nothing's been decided by anybody," source says. I'd put it at 50-50 they get Urban. If not, UT will look hard at James Franklin.
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) December 5, 2020
Texas is not happy with coach Tom Herman and could be looking to make a change. Urban Meyer apparently is the Longhorns’ top candidate, and that could indeed be the kind of lucrative job that might lure Meyer back out of the TV studio and into the coaching ranks.
If Meyer wants the job, he’ll get it. Basically, if Meyer wants any job aside from Alabama or Clemson, he’ll get it. So it depends on what he wants to do.
Texas is Texas. It’s a marquee job and always will be, regardless of how well the Longhorns are playing. The school has tons of money, internally and with boosters, so if it wants to go after someone as a coach, that is not an issue.
There’s also some history between Franklin and Texas. He interviewed for the job and was a finalist back in 2014, before he came to Penn State from Vanderbilt. At that time, the school hired Charlie Strong from Louisville, and his tenure was a disaster as he went 6-7, 5-7 and 5-7 in three years before getting fired.
Texas’ AD who interviewed and was high on Franklin six years ago was Steve Patterson. He’s no longer there. The school’s current AD is Chris Del Conte, and there’s not believed to be any previous connection between Franklin and Del Conte.
Penn State is 2-5 this season, and Franklin has a buyout worth more than $30 million. As we’ve written before, that would make it extremely unlikely that he’ll be going anywhere any time soon. It appears Franklin and Penn State are stuck with each other for years to come, for better or worse.
Would any school want to spend that kind of money to hire Franklin coming off a bad year? Doubtful. But if Penn State were to win out and get to 4-5, a case could be made that Franklin would have done a decent job turning things around after they looked very bleak.
Again, Texas has the kind of money to hire anyone it wants, regardless of buyout. But it would have to be a slam dunk kind of hire that everyone there would be on board with.
Every year around this time, we are going to hear Franklin’s name come up in connection to other jobs. It’s inevitable, as long as he’s doing a good job at PSU. He has not done a good job at PSU this season, but there are certainly some crazy extenuating circumstances.
The bottom line is and always will be this: Does Franklin love being at Penn State? Maybe he does, but after getting ripped by fans this season, you have to wonder if that has taken a toll on him — to see the fan base turn on him so quickly after four years of great success.
Also, does Franklin’s family love being at Penn State? This is really unfortunate for the family because his wife and two daughters have been living down South throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We just don’t know their family dynamic to say if everyone loves living in central PA enough to make this their last coaching stop as a family.
So, here we go again with more rumors. Get used to them.