James Franklin ends speculation, signs contract extension to remain at Penn State

·3 min read

James Franklin is staying at Penn State.

Franklin has agreed to a new 10-year contract that runs through the 2031 season and will increase his pay to $7.5 million per season, the university announced Tuesday.

Franklin’s new deal was finalized when it was formally approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees’ subcommittee on compensation late Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday’s announcement puts an end to months of speculation surrounding Franklin and some of the open jobs in college football, including USC and LSU. Instead, Franklin will remain in State College, where he has been since 2014.

"Nine weeks ago, the administration approached me about making a long-term investment in our football program," Franklin said in a statement. "This prompted numerous conversations outlining the resources needed to be competitive at a level that matches the expectations and history of Penn State. What's most evident from those conversations is the importance of our student-athletes' success both on and off the field."

According to Franklin, those additional resources are "needed to address academic support, community outreach, Name, Image and Likeness (NIL), facility improvements, student-athlete housing, technology upgrades, recruiting, training table and more."

"This renewed commitment to our student-athletes, community and fans reinforces all the reasons I've been proud to serve as your head football coach for the last eight years and why my commitment to Penn State remains steadfast," Franklin said. "Throughout this process I've kept our leadership council, recruits and staff updated on those conversations and I'm excited we've reached an agreement we can finally share with you."

Franklin, who is 67-32 in eight seasons at Penn State, has hinted at a new commitment to the school multiple times in recent weeks.

Last week, the Altoona Mirror reported that Franklin told a group of boosters and fans that “I’m not going anywhere” during a booster luncheon. Following Saturday’s win over Rutgers, Franklin confirmed that he made that comment and said he planned to elaborate on his future on Tuesday.

“I made that statement because I thought something was going to happen a little bit sooner. Tuesday we can talk about that as much as you guys want to talk about that,” Franklin said Saturday.

Franklin previously was under contract through the 2025 season. That six-year deal, which was announced back in February 2020, was for a total of $38 million.

Penn State coach James Franklin reacts during the team's NCAA college football game against Rutgers in State College, Pa., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Penn State won 28-0. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Penn State coach James Franklin reacts during the team's NCAA college football game against Rutgers in State College, Pa., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Penn State won 28-0. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Franklin coached PSU to Big Ten title, but has had recent struggles

Franklin arrived ahead of the 2014 season after going 24-15 over a three-year stint at Vanderbilt. He inherited a PSU program still dealing with some of the fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, including scholarship limitations.

The Nittany Lions went 7-6 in his first two seasons before breaking through with a Big Ten championship and trip to the Rose Bowl in 2016. That was the start of a four-year stretch where the Nittany Lions won 11 games three times and went to three New Year’s Six bowl games, winning two.

However, the last two seasons have underwhelmed. Penn State started 0-5 in 2020 but rallied to finish 4-5 in the pandemic-affected season. This year, PSU started 5-0 and reached No. 4 in the AP poll. Since then, PSU lost four of its next five games — including to Big Ten East rivals Ohio State and Michigan and a nine-overtime home loss to Illinois — and currently sits at 7-4 entering Saturday’s regular season finale at Michigan State.