James Franklin officially named Penn State's new head football coach

It’s official. James Franklin is the new head football coach at Penn State.

By a 6-0 vote Saturday morning, the compensation committee of the Penn State board of trustees approved Franklin’s contract. One member called it “an excellent contract for Penn State and for James Franklin.”

The contract’s length and salary will be disclosed later Saturday at the news conference to formally announce Franklin’s hiring scheduled for 4:15 p.m. at Beaver Stadium. One report on ESPN said Friday the deal could be worth as much as $4.5 million annually.

Franklin, 41, a native of Langhorne, Bucks County, succeeds Bill O’Brien in becoming the 16th head football coach in Penn State history. He comes to Happy Valley from Vanderbilt, where he spent the past three seasons. Under his leadership, the Commodores posted back-to-back nine-win seasons for the first time in university history.

Franklin's hiring ended a nine-day search by a Penn State committee chaired by athletic director Dave Joyner.And it came despite the best efforts of Vanderbilt athletics director David Williams to keep him.

Franklin, a star quarterback at East Stroudsburg in the early 1990s, has been described by friends as “energetic” and “passionate” and is considered an offensive-minded coach and a fine recruiter.

One of his first tasks is to address the Nittany Lions’ 2014 recruiting class and convince them to keep the commitments they made to O’Brien and his staff.

One recruit, four-star quarterback Michael O’Connor of Bradenton, Fla., had expressed doubts about early enrollment at the university next week but now says he will speak with Franklin before making a final decision, according to Blue White Illustrated.

Franklin also must persuade the doubters in the Penn State community that he did not cover up a rape incident last summer involving five players who were kicked off the team after being charged. The prosecutor in the case told the Inquirer on Thursday there was no evidence Franklin was involved “in any way whatsoever in covering it up or anything like that.”

--Joe Juliano