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Penn State Football: Franklin Now Third-Longest Tenured Big Ten Head Coach

by on February 04, 2020 10:00 PM

With the retirement of Mark Dantonio at Michigan State on Tuesday, James Franklin is now No. 3.

As in the third-longest tenured head football coach in the Big Ten Conference.

Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, hired in 1999, is the dean of Big Ten coaches, followed by Pat Fitzgerald of Northwestern. Fitzgerald became the Wildcats’ head coach in 2006 at the age of 31, at the time the youngest head coach in major college football by five years.

Dantonio, 63, had been Michigan State’s head coach since the 2007 season. He leaves the Spartans with an overall record of 115-57, and a 69-39 record in the Big Ten, including a 6-4 mark vs. Penn State.

Franklin was hired by Penn State on Jan 11, 2014. His second contract extension was announced on Dec. 6 — 61 days ago — but terms of the new deal have not yet been released. It will likely raise Franklin’s average annual compensation to over $7 million a year. Counting bonuses, Franklin made $5.96 million in 2019.

Franklin, who turned 48 on Sunday, has an overall record of 56-23 at Penn State, including a 34-18 record in the Big Ten. He will meet with the media on Wednesday in his first press conference since the Cotton Bowl.

Since Franklin was hired by Penn State, there have 34 other head coaches in the Big Ten, including the current coaches in the conference. Michigan State’s next head coach will be No. 35, not counting Franklin.

The trio of Franklin, Penn State president Eric Barron and VP of intercollegiate athletics Sandy Barbour rank No. 2 in shared tenure in the Big Ten among president-AD-head coach troikas. The Northwestern trio of president Morton Schapiro, AD Jim Phillips and Fitzgerald have been together since 2009.

Overall, among the 65 schools that are playing major college football in Power 5 conferences, Franklin ranks No. 15 in longevity at his current school. Ferentz, 64, ranks No. 1, followed by TCU’s Gary Patterson (hired in 2000); Oklahoma’s Mike Gundy (2005), who coached with Franklin at Maryland; Utah’s Kyle Whitingham (2005); and Fitzgerald. Power 5 conferences are the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and the SEC.


Here’s a breakdown of head football coaches in the Big Ten since Franklin’s hiring, including interim head coaches:

Iowa (1) — Kirk Ferentz

Northwestern (1) — Pat Fitzgerald

Penn State (1) — James Franklin

Indiana (2) — Kevin Wilson, Tom Allen

Michigan (2) — Brady Hoke, Jim Harbaugh

Ohio State (2) — Urban Meyer, Ryan Day

Illinois (3) — Tim Beckman, Bill Cubit, Lovie Smith 

Minnesota (3) — Jerry Kill, Tracy Claeys, PJ Fleck 

Purdue (3) — Darrell Hazel, Gerad Parker, Jeff Brohm

Wisconsin (3) — Gary Anderson, Barry Alvarez, Paul Chryst 

Maryland (4) — Randy Edsall, D.J. Durkin, Matt Canada, Mike Locksley

Nebraska (4) — Bo Pelini, Barney Cotton, Mike Riley, Scott Frost

Rutgers (5) — Kyle Flood, Norris Wilson, Chris Ash, Nunzio Campanile, Greg Schiano

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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