STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Despite overtures from the athletic director and an influential booster trying to convince him to stay at Vanderbilt, James Franklin was set to be introduced Saturday as the 16th football coach at Penn State.
Penn State’s athletic department issued a news release Friday saying a “major announcement” would be made at a 1:15 p.m. PST news conference at Beaver Stadium.
Franklin is expected to address Vanderbilt players at a team meeting early Saturday morning.
With final approval of a contract by a Penn State board of trustees committee expected to happen Saturday morning, the 41-year-old Franklin, a Pennsylvania native who is considered to be a rising star in the coaching ranks, is expected to take over as coach, succeeding Bill O’Brien.
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ESPN.com quoted a source as saying the deal could be worth up to $4.5 million per year.
O’Brien, who left to coach the NFL Houston Texans, made about $3.2 million this season.
A Vanderbilt booster and the university’s athletic director worked Friday to try to keep the coach in Nashville.
The Tennessean said Franklin was expected to meet with athletic director David Williams and John Ingram, a man described by the newspaper as “one of the university’s most generous donors and influential people.”
“We love James and we’re fighting hard to keep James, and we’re going to do everything that we can to do that,” Ingram told the Tennessean.
News of the imminent hiring spurred a professor to start a petition on Change.org urging the board of trustees to reject Franklin.
Michelle Rodino-Colocino, an associate professor in the Department of Film-Video and Media Studies and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Women’s Studies, cited the case in which four Vanderbilt players were charged with raping and sexually assaulting a female Vanderbilt student last year. A fifth player pleaded guilty to trying to cover up the attack.
The five players were dismissed from the team, and the prosecutor in the case said he found no evidence Franklin was involved in a cover-up. A trial of the four accused players is to begin in August.
’Bama hires Kiffin
Alabama hired former USC coach Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on Nick Saban’s staff.
Kiffin replaces Doug Nussmeier, who left Alabama to become Michigan’s offensive coordinator.
Nussmeier was Washington’s offensive coordinator from 2009 through the 2011 season.
Kiffin, 38, was 28-15 in three-plus seasons at USC. He was fired five games into the 2013 season.
“He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called,” Saban said of Kiffin in a statement.
Wulff changes jobs
TAMPA, Fla. – Paul Wulff, former Washington State and Eastern Washington coach, is the new offensive coordinator and offensive-line coach at South Florida.
Wulff joins the Bulls after spending the last two seasons as a senior offensive assistant with the NFL San Francisco 49ers. Wulff was fired by WSU in 2011 after going 9-40 in four seasons.
• Players leaving school early to make themselves eligible for the NFL draft include Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin, California defensive tackle Viliami Moala, Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas and Jacksonville State defensive back Pierre Warren.
• Jason Berryman, 28, a former Iowa State defensive end, was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds Wednesday in his Jefferson, Texas, home.