It was always going to be a long shot, but Tennessee “made a run” at James Franklin to be its football coach, a source familiar with the Vols’ situation told Nittany Sports Now on Wednesday.
Franklin never visited Knoxville, we are told, and it’s unclear if he had much interest in the Vols job. But the school was very much interested in him, our source said.
Franklin coached at Vanderbilt from 2011-13, so he knows people in the state and with the University of Tennessee. It’s no surprise the Vols pursued him, and his name was mentioned in numerous media reports over the past week as a possible candidate.
#Tennessee has a new coach and it’s #UCF’s Josh Heupel, sources tell @ClowESPN. New AD Danny White went with a familiar name after a challenging search. Clemson OC Tony Elliott, SMU’s Sonny Dykes, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin among those pursued.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) January 27, 2021
Franklin is under contract at Penn State through 2025 and makes an average of more than $6 million a year. You can see his contract details here.
Franklin’s buyout also is more than $30 million, another factor that makes it tough for another school to lure him away.
Still, whether it’s Tennessee or Texas or USC, Franklin’s name comes up at least once a year as a potential candidate for jobs. At the very least, he can use that as leverage for his situation at Penn State.
Athletic director Sandy Barbour was asked Tuesday if it raises concerns in the athletic department that Franklin’s name comes up for other jobs. As she has done in the past, Barbour said it’s good to have a coach who is wanted by other programs.
“I think the biggest challenge is from a recruiting standpoint, in terms of having that question be posed,” Barbour said. “But I also think it’s very flattering. It’s very flattering to James, and it’s very flattering to Penn State. … I’d rather have somebody that other people want than the other side.”