What a month it’s been for groundbreaking Black college football coaches.
Penn State Takes Page Out Of Sparty’s Book And Locks Up Their Guy Long Term
Since the news broke of LSU head coach Ed Orgeron being out at season’s end, there have been some big names mentioned to step into one of the plush jobs in the country. The likes of James Franklin, Mel Tucker (Michigan State), Luke Fickell (Cincinnati) and even Jimbo Fisher (LSU) were thrown around as possibilities.
On Tuesday, the Nittany Lions made a pledge to James Franklin with a 10-year extension which would keep the talented recruiter in Happy Valley until 2031.
Terms of the deal mention he’ll earn no less than $70 million over the time frame, which equates to $7 million per year. Bonuses could push it closer to the $8 million mark annually.
The terms were approved by the Subcommittee on Compensation of the Penn State Board of Trustees, making official another landmark for Black college coaches at Power Schools.
Last week Michigan State made sure to take Mel Tucker off the proverbial open market by making him the highest paid Black coach in American sports history. His 10-year, $95 million deal averages out to $9.5 million per season in East Lansing.
Penn State also got word that Franklin signed with mega agent Jimmy Sexton and CAA. That sent some shock waves through Happy Valley and indicated that a power move was on the horizon.
Sexton represents an elite compilation of talent, including Alabama coach Nick Saban, Georgia coach Kirby Smart, CFB analyst Tim Tebow, Lane Kiffin and a host of other coaches connected to the SEC. Sexton was able to work a deal for Franklin to stay in Happy Valley and be compensated like he took the LSU job. In other words, he had the boosters boostin’.
Franklin Excited About Deal, But There’s Work To Be Done
Playing in the second-toughest conference in college football, the Big Ten, and in its Eastern Division with Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State is never easy. The only tougher conference and division is the SEC West, which features Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M.
But with this deal Franklin seems to be up for the continued challenge of competing against the best, as he expressed in recent statement:
“Penn State’s future is bright, and I’m honored to continue to serve as your head football coach. Nine weeks ago, the administration approached me about making a long-term investment in our football program.
This prompted numerous conversations outlining the resources needed to be competitive at a level that matches the expectations and history of Penn State.
What’s most evident from those conversations is the importance of our student-athletes both on and off the field.”
LSU Coaching Search Drying Up
After failing to steal Deion Sanders, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Franklin, the LSU Tigers are unfathomably still looking for a new head football coach. Last month the Tigers and current head coach Orgeron mutually agreed to part ways at the end of the season after a myriad of issues — from womanizing, to players transferring, to social media gaffes rife with incriminating pictures — sank his reign.
Since the “Bayou Bengals” won the 2019-20 CFP national title, things down in Baton Rouge have been an utter disaster.
LSU is one of the top five jobs in all of college football along with Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia and Clemson. Between recruiting, facilities, and boosters, it doesn’t get much better than Louisiana State
Black Head Coaches Get White Coach Compensation
It’s safe to say that never before in college football history have two Black coaches been so highly coveted by power schools. The fact that Michigan State and Penn State were willing to dig deep into their treasure chests to retain their African-American coaches is momunmental shift in the way Black head coaches are valued in this current landscape.
Black head coaches like Tucker and Franklin are in demand because they have a cultural connection to many of the elite athletes they recruit and therefore hold an edge in that department.
Franklin Is A Top-Notch Recruiter
Despite his 11-9 record over the past two seasons, Franklin has a reputation as a skilled recruiter. He’s landed players like Saquon Barkley (Giants), Micah Parsons (Cowboys), Chris Godwin (Bucs), just to name a few. His recruiting classes have always performed well for him.
👨🏽🦲✍🏽@CoachJFranklin inks new 🔟-year deal!
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) November 23, 2021
Franklin Arrived In Happy Valley Post-Joe Paterno Scandal
Franklin arrived in 2014 as then-head coach Bill O’Brien departed for the Houston Texans and the NFL. It was still only a few seasons removed from the sexual abuse that shook the University and college football to its core.
Recruiting was way down, although O’Brien did an outstanding job keeping the program competitive and respectable. During his tenure, Franklin strengthened O’Brien’s rebuild and continued regaining the luster that the Penn State program once had.
With a 67-32 overall record and one Big Ten Championship (2016), it was smart to lock Franklin in long-term for stability, if nothing else. With all this program has endured with the Joe Pa scandal, the hiring of Franklin was a bright spot. It has taken the Nittany Lions a few seasons to get back to their current standing, and the university doesn’t want to start over with a new leader.
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