Rumors: Has A Top Big Ten Candidate Emerged To Replace Helton As USC Head Football Coach?
It didn’t take long after USC fired head football coach Clay Helton on Monday for an enormous list of potential candidates to fill the vacancy. James Franklin of Penn State is one candidate who appears to have emerged as a probable frontrunner.
Franklin and USC have a mutual interest, according to a source told sports radio commentator Dan Patrick. The announcement comes only one day after Franklin dodged a question regarding the USC head coaching vacancy.
“I’m going to speak with the leadership council about it today.”
James Franklin addresses speculations that he is a candidate for the USC job. pic.twitter.com/AkM4a2wul4
A source tells Dan that #USC and James Franklin are both interested in the position of Football Head Coach for the #Trojans pic.twitter.com/gSYAmUTi3B
Franklin has a 62-28 record at Penn State since taking over for Bill O’Brien in 2014. Before finishing 4-5 in 2020, Franklin’s Nittany Lions had never finished below.500. Penn State was 42-11 from 2016 to 2019, winning two bowl games.
Franklin, 49, is not from the West Coast and has no significant links to USC. Maryland, Kansas State, the Green Bay Packers, and Vanderbilt have all had periods with the Pennsylvania native.
In the 2017 Rose Bowl, USC defeated Penn State 52-49 on a last-second field goal. It was Helton’s most significant triumph as a head coach.
Penn State has started the 2021 season with a 2-0 record. Penn State is placed No. 10 in the AP Top 25 Poll after victories over Wisconsin and Ball State.
On Saturday night, No. 22 Auburn visits Penn State in an attempt to strengthen its College Football Playoff hopes.
Helton was sacked two days after USC was defeated 42-28 by unranked Stanford. The Trojans were ranked No. 14 in the country going into the game, but have since dropped out of the Top 25.
Without a change in leadership, USC athletic director Mike Bohn believes the squad would fall short of expectations.
Helton’s contract lasted until the 2023 season and contained a $12 million buyout. Franklin is under contract with Penn State until 2025, with a $4 million buyout for this season.
Jack Del Rio, Luke Fickell, Chris Petersen, and Bob Stoops are among the potential candidates.