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Penn State Football: The Final Key to the Franklin Mint

by on January 10, 2014 1:55 AM

James Franklin isn’t Penn State’s 16th head football coach. Yet.

Not officially, anyway. Penn State has to announce it. So there's that.

And there are, no doubt, plenty of negotiations still to be had. And even after that, Franklin will have to wait until Saturday, when Penn State’s Board of Trustees will meet to most likely give a green – for money – thumbs-up on his contract.

To be specific, the Board of Trustees' Compensation Committee will meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturday to discuss a compensation issue. (I'm guessing the "issue" is Franklin’s salary. You?)

At that point, Franklin will most likely be headed to an airport in the Nashville area so that he can arrive in State College late Saturday morning or early Saturday afternoon, with a few press and university obligations as soon as – and if and when – his contract is approved.

It will be interesting to see if Franklin will be making more money than Karen Peetz, the former chair of Penn State’s Board of Trustees and a member of the Compensation Committee. It is a new group, just formed in November 2013 by the PSU board. The committee sets salary, incentives and other contractual terms for the university's top academic leaders, executives and coaches.

A little comparative chart of a lot money:

PSU President Rod Erickson salary, FY 2013-14 -- $600,000

Franklin salary, Vanderbilt, 2013 (est.) -- $3 million

Bill O’Brien salary, Penn State, FY 2013-14 -- $3.28 million

Bill O’Brien salary + bonus, Penn State, FY 2013-14 -- $4.2 million

Compensation Committee member Karen Peetz salary, Bank of N.Y. Mellon, FY 2012, according to -- $4.85 million

The membership of the BOT's Compensation Committee does not include any board members elected by Penn State's 600,000-plus alumni. The committee is comprised of:

Kathleen Casey, senior advisor at Patomak Global Partners, LLC, was a Republican commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from 2006-2011 after being nominated by President George W. Bush. She was appointed by the governor.

Mark Dambly, president of Philadelphia-based Pennrose Properties, LLC, is a real estate developer. He was appointed by the governor. 

Keith Masser, chair of the board and an ex-officio member of the committee. He owns Pennsylvania-based Sterman Masser Inc., which produces potatoes, cash grain and hay, with sales of $90 million a year. He was elected by the delegates of the agricultural societies.

Karen Peetz, president of Bank of NY Mellon Corp., and named by American Banker as one of the “25 Most Powerful Women In Banking.” She was elected to represent business and industry.

Paul Silvis, founder of Centre County-based Restek Corp., whose annual sales exceed $60 million. He and his wife Nancy donated $1 million to the Pegula Ice Arena and the lobby is named in their honor. He was appointed by the governor and is the board’s vice chair.

Linda Strumpf, is the retired chief investment officer of the Helmsley Charitable Trust in New York, which supports nonprofits in health and medical research, human services, education, and conservation. She represents business and industry.


The board OK would complete the Franklin hire. This is how it began on Thursday, with a Tweet from Bruce Feldman of at 11:56 a.m.:

#Vandy’s James Franklin to become next head coach at #PennState, per source.

Word quickly spread throughout Nittany Nation, via Twitter and texts and cells. That noise on campus you didn’t hear, though? That’s because there was none. Students are still on break and will start filtering onto campus and into town this weekend, since spring semester classes start on Monday.

When the last of the 46,184 students left after the final final exam 21 days ago, Bill O’Brien was Penn State’s head coach and Franklin was prepping for the BBVA Bowl. Now, O’Brien has been head coach of the NFL’s Houston Texans for 10 days and he’s been a busy man – firing 16 Houston assistants and bringing in eight guys from his Penn State staff to work for him with the Texans.

For his part, during that time Franklin’s Vanderbilt squad beat Houston (the college team) 41-24 and Franklin celebrated by interviewing with Texas (again, the college team) and putting his name out there for NFL head coaching vacancies. I'm curious if that's a tradition he'll bring to Penn State when the bowl ban is lifted.

He then beat out a field of five for the Penn State job, in a race that had a decidedly local flavor. Former Penn State players Mike Munchak and Al Golden, PSU defensive line stalwart Larry Johnson, and New Jersey native Greg Roman, the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, also interviewed. Someone who has worked closely with NFL coaches for many years and knows Roman well, told me somewhat enthusiastically today that “Roman’s a smart guy and he’ll get a good head coaching job one day.”

Munchak is without a job. Golden already has a good one, coaching Miami (Fla.), and owns an excellent 2014 recruiting class, ranked No. 9 by But what he doesn’t have is his “dream job,” which he waited all week to get. But he never received that last look offer he thought he had been promised.

That became official with a perfunctory phone call from Penn State’s athletic director Dave Joyner to Golden’s agent in Philadelphia late Thursday afternoon: Golden was not going to be Penn State’s next head football coach. Hey, thanks for calling, we get the Internet in Philly, too.

Penn State’s current football players all got a message as well.

Nittany Lion defensive end Brad Bars, who went to prep school in Nashville, told The Tennessean that on Thursday Nittany Lion players were told via football group text that “nothing is official yet” regarding a new coach. The text also said that the players would be the first to know.

Really? Do you wanna bet a Franklin on that?

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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