Last updated: January 09. 2014 11:53PM - 2215 Views
By - dlevarse@timesleader.com

James Franklin may very well be Penn State's next head coach. But the two sides will have to wait a little longer to finalize a deal.
James Franklin may very well be Penn State's next head coach. But the two sides will have to wait a little longer to finalize a deal.
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For Penn State, the last two weeks have been equal parts indigestion and semantics lesson.

So when it came time to actually hire the new head coach the school had picked, things didn’t figure to get any easier.

Technically speaking, as of Thursday evening, James Franklin was still the coach at Vanderbilt. But it may be just a matter of finalizing a deal in the coming days for him to come to Penn State.

CBS Sports first reported Thursday that Franklin was expected to be named Penn State’s next coach once all of the details of a contract were hammered out. That includes getting approval from the compensation committee of the school’s board of trustees.

A conference call for a vote on a personnel matter is scheduled for Saturday morning, according to the university.

As the bureaucratic process plods along, Franklin, the Nittany Lions and the many, many people following the saga are left in a sort of limbo.

For the Lions, the initial excitement of an impending hire was dampened as Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams spoke up later in the day.

“(Franklin) called to let me know the reports that he had accepted another job were inaccurate,” Williams told The Associated Press Thursday afternoon. “And I didn’t ask anything more than that, nor did he volunteer anything more than that.”

Of course, there may not technically — there’s that word again — be a job to accept until Penn State trustees give it their blessing.

As such, Williams said Franklin remains the Commodores coach “until he tells me otherwise” and that Franklin was still trying to make a decision between staying at Vanderbilt and heading to Penn State.

Neither Penn State nor Franklin made any public statements about the situation Thursday.

A lengthy gap between reports of an agreement and a formal announcement are not uncommon. Two years ago, it took about 24 hours for Bill O’Brien’s deal to be confirmed by Penn State. Both the New England Patriots and the Paterno family acknowledged O’Brien’s impending hire before the university did.

The Lions are hopeful it will all be worth the wait.

Franklin rocketed onto the national radar in the past three years, leading Vanderbilt to its best results in more than a century, going 24-15 as a member of the dominant SEC and winning consecutive bowl games.

A Pennsylvania native and East Stroudsburg University graduate, Franklin has been of interest to Penn State since O’Brien left to take a job with the Houston Texans at the turn of the new year.

The situation appeared to accelerate on Wednesday as a private plane carrying Penn State officials, including president Rodney Erickson and athletic director Dave Joyner, flew to Destin, Fla. Williams confirmed that Franklin and his family have a home in Destin.

Franklin, however, did not return to State College with them on Wednesday night.

Williams called Franklin “the best college football coach in America” this week because of his work as a coach and a recruiter with the Commodores.

Penn State has also discussed the job with interim head coach Larry Johnson, Penn State alums Al Golden and Mike Munchak and San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

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