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Penn State Football: Franklin Contract Extension Shouldn't Be This Hard

by on July 25, 2017 1:50 PM

Pay that man his money - John Malkovich in Rounders


Penn State and James Franklin appear to be closing in on a new contract while simultaneously getting no closer than they were months ago judging by athletic director Sandy Barbour's comments to the media in Chicago, Tuesday during the second day of Big Ten Media Days.

“I can guarantee you this," Barbour said, "we’re 100 percent committed to James and James is 100 percent committed to Penn State. So we’re trying to get to the right place. Sometimes it can be complicated, but I have no concern about us getting there. It’s probably going to take longer than any of us thought.”

On the surface it's a reasonable quote, contract negotiations take time and energy and agreeing on a lot of details. The only problem, Barbour has been saying the same thing for months.

Which doesn't automatically mean that the negotiations are going badly. Both parties are undeniably busy and there isn't actually a pressing reason for Franklin to sign a new contract when his current one doesn't end until 2019. Certainly a Big Ten Championship season tends to be the catalyst for those kinds of extensions, but there isn't any actual pressing threat that Franklin is going to take his ball and leave at the end of a rapidly approaching deadline.

Even so, it makes one wonder what the hold up is.

The best guess is things unrelated to Franklin, which is to say commitments to facility upgrades, staff compensation and other peripherals that make the program run. It's certainly possible that Franklin wants more money, and he will probably get it, even as he's set to make $4.3 million this season before bonuses, but it's unlikely.

Which again, makes you wonder why it's taking so long. Franklin, within the context of a person making millions in charge of a program bringing in millions has always seemed pragmatic about his interests. Which is to say it's unlikely that Franklin is haggling with Penn State over the lack of water slides on campus and probably more conventional branding and building needs.

Even more likely, an interest in getting his staff locked up as long as he can. Joe Moorhead, despite never actually saying so, doesn't seem like a person destined to spend the rest of his career, let alone the rest of this decade at Penn State. Every game Franklin can keep him on staff is another Penn State can work towards bigger and better things. Maybe Franklin has another home run hire on his list of potential assistants, but it's hard to imagine it going so well twice in a row. This in turn means Penn State's best window (so far) won't be open for long and that's something Franklin almost certainly knows.

It is true that Penn State isn't sitting around with mounds of cash waiting to be used, so maybe Franklin will have to pick his battles, but it again, seems unlikely that he's pushing for something completely unreasonable, even if fundraising takes time.

Which means that unless the hang up is something completely different, or that Franklin is asking for something far less actionable, Penn State really ought to give it to him and move on. The university, for all of its redeemable qualities has maintained its longstanding institutional hubris that often sees itself refusing to do the obvious for the sake of having not been told what to do.

And eventually that sours everyone involved. And considering the amount of money the university has paid to clean up its own mess, it can probably chip in a few more dollars to one of the guys holding the broom.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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