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Penn State head coach James Franklin has had his name thrown around the rumor mill for quite some time, and that is largely on his own accord. Franklin has been reluctant to offer any firm public statements on his job status beyond the 2021 season while his name is connected to the coaching radar at LSU and USC, but he reportedly offered a strong confirmation of his intent for after this season during a lunch with the State College Quarterback Club.
According to Neil Rudel of the Altoona Mirror, via Twitter, Franklin received a positive reaction from the State College Quarterback Club when he told them he plans on staying at Penn State in 2022.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Franklin reportedly told the crowd of up to 200 people on Wednesday.
Another twist to the ongoing James Franklin saga: Franklin got up at the State College Quarterback Club lunch on Wednesday and offered his firmest declaration yet on job speculation, saying "I'm not going anywhere." The crowd of 175-200 gave him a rousing ovation. #PSU
— Neil Rudel (@NeilRudel) November 18, 2021
The timing of the statement is noteworthy. Franklin has been reluctant to say such a firm statement on multiple occasions this season, which could have just been a coaching carousel strategy. Franklin did hire a new agent, raising the possibility Franklin could potentially bolt for a new opportunity that was willing to pay. But this statement also comes at a time when it is believed that LSU is moving Franklin off their radar and focusing on other potential targets. Is this statement from Franklin something that was made knowing LSU was out of the picture for Franklin, or has this been the agenda all along?
The next week or two should be incredibly interesting for Franklin and his future. It’s one thing to say something like this at a lunch like the State College Quarterback Club. It’s another to come out and say it publicly to the fans and media watching everything unfold.
This has been a disappointing season for Franklin and Penn State. Penn State started off the season feeling great with a 5-0 record but has since dropped four of their last five games to come into the final home game of the season in Beaver Stadium with a record of just 6-4. Penn State can clinch a winning season on Saturday with a win against Rutgers, but the bar for success with two games remaining is a long way off from where it looked like the season could potentially be heading in September.
But as the regular season comes to a close after two more games, the future of Franklin will be solidified one way or another. USC and LSU likely won’t waste too much time locking in their next head coaches, but there may not be too many other options that would likely be able to pull Franklin away from Penn State if he was to consider any other potential opportunities.
So get ready for a busy couple of weeks. Until the plane comes in for a landing, Franklin’s future is still in the air.