Report: Penn State preparing to keep James Franklin if other schools pursue him

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Penn State head coach James Franklin watches from the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa. Penn State won 21-19.

With the success that Penn State head coach James Franklin has experienced over the past 16 games, reports on which colleges might try to woo him from Happy Valley are bound to appear.

One such report surfaced Thursday on CBSSports.com, in which columnist Dennis Dodd said he had learned that Penn State officials are preparing in case Texas A&M makes a run at Franklin if that university parts ways with head coach Kevin Sumlin.

When asked for comment, Penn State athletics released a brief statement that said: “Nothing has changed from the commitment that we made to coach Franklin and the commitment James made to Penn State just before this season started.”

In his fourth season with the Nittany Lions, Franklin has his team at 6-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation. The Lions are 15-1 since suffering a 49-10 loss at Michigan, a team they will meet in their next game, on Oct. 21, at Beaver Stadium.

Franklin signed a three-year, $19.75 million contract extension in August that goes through the 2022 season. His guaranteed annual compensation runs from $4.3 million this season to $6.25 million in 2022. His buyout is $2 million.

Sumlin signed a six-year, $30 million contract with Texas A&M in late 2013.

There are certain to be other colleges that will go after Franklin after the season.

In a radio interview with national talk-show host Jim Rome on Tuesday, Franklin addressed a question about whether he would consider a job in the NFL:  “We’re focused on building what we’ve got here, which I think is really special.”

Franklin has experience in the Southeastern Conference, serving as head coach at Vanderbilt for three seasons before taking over at Penn State. He won nine games in each of his last two seasons with the Commodores and led them to three bowl games.