Despite numerous big-time head coaching opportunities having already opened, Penn State's leading man is staying right where he is. James Franklin has agreed to a new contract to keep him in Happy Valley for 10 years. Franklin's previous contract was set to run through the 2025 season.
The new deal pays Franklin a guaranteed $7 million annually, plus a $500,000 retention bonus on December 31st starting in 2022, plus a $1 million annual loan towards life insurance. The restructured buyout terms set Franklin's buyout at $12 million through April of 2022, and $8 million through the end of that year should be leave for another job. That rate drops to $6 million in 2023.
Commitments to continued improvement of facilities, program support, and assistant coaching salaries, are likely major points of this new agreement as well. Those elements have been something spoken about at length by Franklin since his arrival at Penn State nearly eight years ago.
The past two seasons have not gone as planned for Franklin's Nittany Lions, but his overall body of work in Happy Valley remains very impressive. While compiling a 67-32 over eight years with the program, he has also led his team to a Big Ten championship in 2016, three 11-win seasons (2016, 2017, 2019), and two New Year's Six bowl game wins (Fiesta in 2017, Cotton in 2019).
Franklin has also greatly elevated Penn State's recruiting efforts since arriving in State College. Since arriving at the tail end of the 2014 recruiting cycle, his classes have been ranked 24th, 14th, 20th, 15th, 6th, 12th, 15th, and 21st according to the 247Sports Composite team rankings. The current 2022 class is currently ranked fifth in the country and includes some of the most impressive individual talents that Franklin and his staff have ever recruited. That class is set to sign during the early signing period in just a matter of weeks.
Franklin has also led the charge for several long-overdue upgrades to Penn State Football facilities, most notably the makeover and impending expansion of the Lasch Building. He has also done a great job of identifying and incorporating coaches who have both done great things with Penn State and gone on to do great things. Two former offensive coordinators, Joe Moorhead and Ricky Rahne, went on to become head coaches at Mississippi State and Old Dominion, respectively. Former running backs and special teams coach Charles Huff is also now a head coach at Marshall. Former position coaches Josh Gattis and Tim Banks have gone on to become coordinators at major programs as well.