STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State has hired James Franklin as its next head football coach.
Franklin, 41, who led Vanderbilt to bowls in all three of his seasons there, replaces Bill O’Brien, who left the Nittany Lions after two years to coach the NFL’s Houston Texans. Penn State made the announcement Saturday, after the school’s compensation committee met to finalize the contract.
That committee approved the hiring by a 6-0 vote Saturday morning.
Franklin won 24 games with the Commodores and is a Pennsylvania native with strong ties in-state. Penn State officials met with him this week in Florida. He will be asked to build off a foundation that O’Brien set amid scandal. Despite a lack of scholarships, a bowl ban and player defections from the late Joe Paterno‘s roster, O’Brien led the Nittany Lions to two winning seasons (8-4, 7-5) while restoring some tempered enthusiasm in Happy Valley.
That torch has now been passed to Franklin, who played at Division III East Stroudsburg (Pa.). He set seven school records as a senior, and he also has coached at Washington State, Idaho State, Kansas State and Maryland. With the Terrapins, he was offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.