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Penn State HC James Franklin on Insider’s ‘Projected Target List’ to Succeed Nick Saban at Alabama

Photo by Jordan Leneberg, Nittany Sports Now: James Franklin

Minutes after news broke that legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban would be retiring, Penn State coach James Franklin was among six names on a “projected target list” to be Alabama’s next head coach.

Wednesday was a historic day in the football world. The college football season and NFL regular season have come to a close, ushering in an offseason full of significant shakeups.

Hours after former USC coaching legend Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks announced he will no longer be the head coach, word got out that arguably the greatest coach in college football history will be hanging up the whistle.

According to Chris Low of ESPN, Alabama head coach Nick Saban is retiring. A seven-time national champion –  six at Alabama, one at LSU – Saban embodied consistency by making the College Football Playoff eight times since its inception 10 years ago. He compiled a 297-71-1 career record, 11 SEC Championships, five SEC Coach of the Year honors, and two AP Coach of the Year awards.

The rational question is… what’s next at Alabama? ESPN insider Pete Thamel raised eyes in State College minutes after Saban’s retirement by releasing a “projected target list” to become the next head coach of the Crimson Tide.

Penn State head coach James Franklin made Thamel’s list as an option to replace Saban at Alabama. Dan Lanning (Oregon), Kalen DeBoer (Washington), Dabo Sweeney (Clemson), Mike Norvell (Florida State), and Marcus Freeman (Notre Dame) were the other head coaches Thamel thinks could leave their history program for one of the three winningest programs in history.

“All come with complications and big buyouts, as it’s difficult to move entrenched coaches,” Thamel said on Twitter (X). 

Franklin is under contract at Penn State through the 2031 season after signing a 10-year, $70 million deal in 2021. Penn State finished this past season 10-3 with losses to Ohio State, national champ Michigan (who beat Saban and Alabama in his final game on the sidelines), and Ole Miss. 

Two legends exiting not just on the same day but mere hours apart is a rarity and will go down as one of the most memorable days for coaching in football history.

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