Penn State Football Head Coach James Franklin has signed a new contract to stay with the Nittany Lions for the foreseeable future. 10 years to be exact. Franklin will be at the helm of the Penn State Football program through 2031. After being connected to several major college coaching jobs, notably USC and LSU, Franklin has decided to stay home. Franklin has led the Nittany Lions to a 7-4 season with one regular-season game remaining. Penn State can get to 8-4 with a win over Michigan State. If he can bring home the Land Grant Trophy, it will be Franklin’s fifth eight-win season since becoming the Penn State head coach.
James Franklin Signs New Contract
It is a polarizing decision amongst Penn State fans, many of whom had high hopes for this football season. However, Penn State ranks third in red zone defense. The Nittany Lions sit behind only Georgia and Clemson in this category. Further, Penn State ranks fourth in scoring defense. Both are good for first in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions also rank seventh in team passing efficiency on defense, which is good for first in the Big Ten East and third in the Big Ten overall.
It is no doubt that Franklin’s defense is thriving under Defensive Coordinator Brent Pry, the problem lies in the hot and cold Penn State offense. Franklin hired Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich in the offseason. Fans thought this hire would solve the scoring issues for the Nittany Lions. It did not solve those issues. The Penn State offense ranks 75th in third-down conversions, 72nd in first downs, 25th passing offense, and 116th in rushing offense. The offensive line has not been able to protect starting quarterback Sean Clifford. In addition, as the ranking shows, the run game has been nonexistent.
While the outlook can look dismal to fans, the issues on offense are fixable. That comes from two very highly ranked recruiting classes for 2022 and 2023. Both Franklin has. Giving Yurcich time to get his offense going is something that fans must allow. The Nittany Lions have shown flashes of greatness this season. With two games (one regular season and presumably a bowl game) remaining, Franklin still has a chance to end the season strong.
What do fans want to see in the Franklin future? Closing out big games. This has been an issue since Franklin came to Penn State and it is frustrating. Penn State is close in big games with sights set on a win and then it doesn’t happen. This is what fans will want to see out of the future for Franklin at Penn State. It is doable, especially with the potential talent coming in. Franklin staying is a good thing in the grand scheme of things. The Nittany Lions have had more winning seasons than not, with three being 11-win seasons. The Big Ten East is a tough conference. Franklin has the offensive coordinator that many other programs wanted, it’s time to see what they can do together.
Closing out games should become easier over the next few years. Franklin made updating resources for the football program a driving force in his contract negotiations. The head coach is quoted saying, “Penn State’s future is bright, and I’m honored to continue to serve as your head football coach.” In the press release Franklin continued regarding contract negotiations, “…This prompted numerous conversations outlining the resources needed to be competitive at a level that matches the expectations and history of Penn State.”