Joyner: PSU coach search 'on schedule,' Franklin reportedly is frontrunner

Vanderbilt head football coach James Franklin. (Mark Humphrey/AP file photo)

Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said Tuesday that the search for a new head coach is going well and added, “I anticipate having the new head coach in place in a matter of days.”

Joyner issued a statement on the university’s athletic web site updating the search to succeed Bill O’Brien. He did not address a report by that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has emerged as the “clear frontrunner” for the job.

According to reports, no offer has yet been made by Penn State to Franklin.

Joyner’s statement reads:

“The search for the new leader of the Penn State football program is progressing very well. We are on schedule and I anticipate having the new head coach in place in a matter of days. The search is robust as we anticipated we would be and we have an excellent pool of candidates. I have heard from many coaches, and their representatives, who have expressed their interest in the position.”

The six-member search committee, which is chaired by Joyner, reportedly interviewed Franklin and former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak on Sunday. The panel also conducted an interview with Miami coach Al Golden, who said Sunday he has not applied for any other position.

The news about Franklin was accompanied by word Tuesday that two of his assistants – offensive coordinator John Donovan and defensive coordinator Bob Shoop – became Twitter followers of many of Penn State’s 2014 commitments.

However, another report on quoted Vanderbilt athletics director David Williams as saying he will work toward having Franklin return to the Commodores next season. He said he spoke twice Monday with Franklin about recruiting, but not about the Penn State reports.

“I expect James to be our football coach. I’m planning on it,” Williams told the web site. He later added, “I have all thoughts that he’s going to be our football coach. I’ll do everything I can to make sure that he is.”

Meanwhile, Munchak is waiting in the wings. ESPN reported that the former Penn State offensive lineman, who was fired Saturday by the Titans, will interview Friday with the Detroit Lions.

--Joe Juliano