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Penn State officials have begun internally preparing for Texas A&M to pursue head football coach James Franklin if Kevin Sumlin departs the university after this season.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported the news.
Franklin, 45, is 31-15 in three-plus seasons with the Nittany Lions. He’s led a resurgence over the last two years, winning the Big Ten championship last season and currently has the Lions ranked No. 3 after a 6-0 start.
The report did not indicate whether Franklin would have any interest in taking the Texas A&M job, which remains filled by Sumlin. The Aggies are 4-2 and a week removed from a one-score loss to Alabama; Sumlin’s fate is not nearly as precarious as it seemed after their opening-week collapse against UCLA.
Texas A&M’s desire to move on will likely be predicated on how it fares the remainder of the season. Sumlin has a 48-23 record in five-plus seasons with the school but has failed to do better than an 8-5 record each of the previous three years.
Franklin previously coached at Vanderbilt, so this would be something of an SEC homecoming if he were to have interest in the job.
But there is far more reason to believe Franklin would simply use A&M as a bargaining chip to force Penn State into giving him another raise. Penn State signed Franklin to a three-year, $19.75 million contract extension in August.
If the 2017 season keeps trending upward in Happy Valley, odds are Franklin and Penn State brass will be back at the negotiating table this winter.