James Franklin continues to be recognized for the job he’s done leading the Nittany Lions this season — and he could be adding some more hardware to his personal trophy case.
It was announced Wednesday that Franklin is among the finalists for a pair of national coach of the year honors: the AP National Coach of the Year award, as well as the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award.
Franklin is one of three finalists for the AP National Coach of the Year award, which will announce its winner on Thursday.
The third-year Penn State coach is joined by Alabama’s Nick Saban and Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre. Saban has directed the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record, SEC championship and trip to the College Football Playoff, while MacIntyre has resurrected the Buffs, recording a 10-3 record following years of incompetence in Boulder.
For the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award, Franklin is one of nine finalists with Saban, MacIntyre, Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, and Southern California’s Clay Helton. The winner will be selected on Jan. 11.
This is the second time Franklin’s been nominated for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award. He led Vanderbilt to a 9-4 record in 2012, but ironically then-Penn State coach Bill O’Brien won the award.
Of course, Franklin’s Nittany Lions defeated Chryst’s Badgers in the Big Ten Championship game 38-31 on Dec. 3, capturing Penn State’s first conference crown since 2008.
After winning arguably the toughest conference in college football, Franklin was named the Sporting News Coach of the Year, as well as a finalist for the 2016 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award.
Prior to the comeback win over Wisconsin, Franklin was named the Dave McClain Big Ten Coach of the Year, as voted on by the media.
The No. 5 Nittany Lions (11-2) are headed to the Rose Bowl to face Helton’s No. 9 Trojans (9-3) at 5 p.m. on Jan. 2.