James Franklin is here for the long haul.
Franklin — the reigning Big Ten coach of the year after guiding Penn State to a Rose Bowl appearance last season — had a contract extension unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees’ compensation committee Friday morning.
Franklin’s new deal is over six years through 2022. The coach’s average guaranteed compensation in that span is $5.3 million per year, escalating from $4.3 million in 2017 to $6.25 million in 2022.
His buyout for 2017 is $2 million, while it sits at $1 million every season thereafter.
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“My family and I are very thankful to be a part of the Penn State community,” Franklin said in a written statement. “I am pleased with the progress our program has made in the community, in the classroom and on the field. I look forward to diligently working with President Barron and Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour on implementing a plan that puts our University and our student-athletes in the best position to compete on the field and in life.”
The above figures don’t account for a retention bonus paid annually on Dec. 31, either. The bonus is $300,000 from 2017-20; $500,000 in 2021 and $1 million in 2022.
Franklin has plenty of opportunities for other bonuses, as well.
If Penn State wins another Big Ten title, Franklin earns $350,000. If the Nittany Lions reach the College Football Playoff, the head man gets $400,000 — but should Penn State win the whole thing, that figure doubles to $800,000.
Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour believes the terms of Franklin’s new contract are more than appropriate.
“James and his staff have done an exceptional job with our football student-athletes and in all aspects of the football program,” Barbour said in a statement. “His values are Penn State’s values, and they resonate throughout every member of the organization and team he has built. James is a tremendous leader of young men, motivating them to extend their reach and impact far beyond what they might have thought possible on the field, in the classroom and community. We are excited about continuing to work together to strive to make a lifetime of impact, win championships and celebrate many successes on and off the field along the way.”
Franklin — who owns a 25-15 record in three seasons at the helm — inked a six-year deal worth $25 million in January 2014.
Succeeding Bill O’Brien, Franklin assumed a program still steeped in NCAA sanctions. After penalties were levied in 2012 in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, the Nittany Lions faced a bowl ban and reduced scholarship for two more years when Franklin took the job.
Still, Franklin’s tenure has been a successful one. After back-to-back 7-6 seasons and trips to the Pinstripe Bowl and TaxSlayer Bowl, Franklin brought Penn State back so to speak in 2016.
After a loss to Pittsburgh and a 39-point defeat against Michigan plagued the start of his third campaign, speculation rose about Franklin’s job security. He and the Nittany Lions quelled those concerns on Oct. 22, 2016. Propelled by a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, Penn State upset then-No. 2 Ohio State 24-21, causing Happy Valley to erupt.
The Nittany Lions rolled from there. Penn State rode an eight-game winning streak to a Big Ten East division title and notched a ninth-straight “W” in Indianapolis. With a come-from-behind, 38-31 win over Wisconsin, Franklin lifted the conference championship trophy — a landmark moment in Penn State football history.
Penn State fell 52-49 to Southern California in the Rose Bowl, but its presence alone was unexpected and memorable.
After a couple of 7-6 seasons, Franklin — and offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s offense — catapulted Penn State back into the national conversation.
In his Jan. 11, 2014 introductory press conference, Franklin verbally committed to Penn State long-term.
“We’re coming here with the mindset that we’re going to build a program,” Franklin said that day. “We’re going to build it the right way, and we’re going to build it for the long haul. We plan on being here for a very, very long time.”
Now that Franklin and Penn State have agreed on a contract extension, it appears that will be the case.