Sporting News: James Franklin the No. 12 Coach in the Country

By Matthew Filipovits on June 14, 2018 at 10:05 am
Dec 30, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin celebrates after defeating the Washington Huskies in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Sporting News released their annual college football coaches rankings ahead of the 2018 season with James Franklin checking in at No. 12, up three spots from 15th a year ago.

Franklin owns a 36-17 record through his four-year tenure at Penn State, going 22-5 over the past two seasons. SN has Jim Harbaugh, Mark Dantonio, and Urban Meyer all pegged ahead of Franklin, a by-product of his 3-9 mark against the divisional foes throughout his tenure. 

Being behind Meyer makes sense, he's one of the all-time greats, but Franklin has a case to be ahead of both Harbaugh and Dantonio.

Harbaugh has a record of 28-11 over his three seasons in Ann Arbor. That's nothing to scoff at but the Wolverines took a step backward last season, finishing fourth in the division with an 8-5 record. Franklin's third season? A Big Ten title and nearly a trip to the College Football Playoff.

Penn State and Michigan State have been very similar since Franklin took the helm in 2014. As mentioned, Penn State is 36-17 since that point, and Sparty is 36-16 during that span. While the disastrous 2016 Michigan State season is looking more like an outlier, it should be noted that Franklin has never had a losing regular season as a head coach, even going back to his Vanderbilt days.

The Sporting News also credits Franklin's success to his ability to recruit. Franklin currently plays second fiddle to Meyer in that regard, but he crushed both Harbaugh and Dantonio in with this past class. Penn State's 2018 class was the fifth-ranked according to 247Sports, while Michigan's was 21 and Sparty's was 32.


  • Geoff Collins, Temple - 92
  • Lovie Smith, Illinois - 84
  • Chris Ash, Rutgers - 83
  • Tom Allen, Indiana - 71
  • Joe Moorhead, Mississippi St. - 65
  • D.J. Durkin, Maryland - 55 
  • Pat Narduzzi, Pitt - 50
  • P.J. Fleck, Minnesota - 41
  • Jeff Brohm, Purdue - 37
  • Scott Frost, Nebraska - 28
  • Kirk Ferentz, Iowa - 27
  • Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - 23
  • Paul Chryst, Wisconsin - 14
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan - 11
  • Mark Dantonio, Michigan St. - 9
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio St. - 3
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson - 2
  • Nick Saban, Alabama - 1

The entire list can be found here.