James Franklin has surfaced again as a candidate at USC and one report says there’s mutual interest between the two sides.
As Clay Helton circled and occupied the hot seat over the last few years, Penn State head coach James Franklin consistently surfaced as a candidate to take over at USC. Franklin is among the early rumored candidates in the wake of Helton’s firing this week and one report has gone a little further.
On his eponymous show Wednesday morning, Dan Patrick reported there’s mutual interest between Franklin and USC.
Patrick has a bad track record when it comes to college football reporting, so the Franklin-USC thing has to be taken with a grain of salt in that context. But the USC speculation naturally came up when Franklin spoke to the media on Tuesday and issued a non-denial denial, simply saying he doesn’t want there to be any distractions.
Instead of a denial (believable or not), like Urban Meyer and to a lesser degree Luke Fickell have offered when asked about USC, Franklin said he “can’t stand any form of distraction” and he’ll talk to his “leadership council” ahead of Saturday night’s game against Auburn.
Would James Franklin leave Penn State for USC?
Now into his eighth season in Happy Valley, Franklin is 62-38 as Nittany Lions’ head coach. According to 247Sports, he has put together the No. 1 recruiting class for 2022. So he does not need the cache (or lingering perception of cache) that comes with USC and Southern California to recruit well or win a lot of games.
But Penn State is clearly a second-fiddle to Ohio State in the Big Ten (and the Big Ten East) until further notice. The Pac-12, on the other hand, is there for the taking if the Trojans can get back on track.
A move by USC to hire Franklin won’t happen until after the season. His name will remain on the lists out there to replace Helton until he offers an outright denial about taking the job. Even then it won’t necessarily mean anything, as Nick Saban saying he would not be Alabama’s coach before doing just that proved.
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