The Penn State Nittany Lions have found their next head coach, hiring James Franklin away from the Vanderbilt Commodores. Franklin has been one of the hottest names in coaching searches this offseason, making the hire a huge get for Penn State considering the current challenges burdening the program from the NCAA. With those sanctions still in place, expect Franklin’s biggest impact on his new school will come on the recruiting trail.
Penn State will still be under the heavy handed sanctions of the NCAA for two more seasons which limit the number of scholarships the program can sign and keeps them from playing in the postseason. That creates a lack of depth for the program and puts pressure on the coaching staff to make sure that the players they do sign for the team are the right players. Without the additional scholarships that their Big Ten rivals are fortunate enough to still have, the margin for error on recruits is razor thin.
While at Vanderbilt, Franklin recruited incredibly well despite the rigorous academic standards of the university. Those high academic standards limited the scope of players that Franklin could bring to Vandy but he was still able to consistently bring in top top-25 recruiting classes and get the Commodores into the postseason year after year. Building a program through recruiting at a university with some obstacles to recruiting is how Franklin has built his resume as one of the best young coaches in college football and will serve him well in Happy Valley.
Franklin likely won’t be able to rely on the pipelines he established in the southeast while at Vanderbilt exclusively at Penn State and he will have to focus on quickly establishing relationships with the recruiting hotbeds in the northeast. But there’s no denying Franklin’s ability to sell a program to a recruit in the living room and he will be able to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Urban Meyer and Brady Hoke in the battle for the best recruits in the Big Ten. That salesmanship and cheerleading is exactly what Penn State needs on the recruiting trail at this point as they don’t have much else to sell incoming recruits on with sanctions still in place.
The Penn State coaching search has found the right guy for the job in Franklin who knows how to build a program. The Nittany Lions will be excellent on the field in 2014 and beyond thanks to Franklin’s ability to coach up players and bring in the right players on the recruiting trail. In short, Penn State has their guy and he’s going to bring a lot of talent to Happy Valley.