Is Penn State’s James Franklin on the Hot Seat

The meaning of Hot Seat when discussing college football coaches is the coach had better win or he is in danger of losing his job.

Every season there are several coaches always in danger of losing their jobs. They are said to be on the Hot Seat.

Possibly one of those in the 2016 season will be James Franklin of Penn State. After recording back to back 7-6 records in 2014 and 2015, the murmuring is getting pretty loud coming out of Pennsylvania.

As usual, I think Penn State fans need to be patient.

The Nittany Lions hired Franklin away from Vanderbilt of the SEC where he led the Commodores to a 24-15 record.

Vanderbilt, before the arrival of James Franklin, had gone to three bowl games since the 1974 season. Bobby Johnson took the Commodores to a bowl game in 2008 with a 6-6 record. But, he strangely decided to retire right in the middle of the summer before the 2010 season.

Vanderbilt named Robbie Caldwell as head coach and he quit after the Commodores suffered through a disastrous 2-10 season.

Franklin’s first season of  in Nashville saw the Commodore’s improve to 6-6 before losing their bowl game. They lost in the Liberty Bowl to Cincinnati in a great game, 24 to 31.

His second season at Vanderbilt was impressive with the team finishing with a 9-4 record after beating North Carolina State in the Music City Bowl. If you don’t think Vanderbilt winning 9 games in a season is an outstanding feat, you have not been following college football. The last 9 win season for the Commodores was in 1915. Yes, that was 1915.

In 2013, nearly 100 years since the last time Vanderbilt won 9 games they did it one more time. They had never won 9 games in consecutive seasons before.

Three seasons at Vanderbilt and three bowl games. Nobody had done that at Vanderbilt in 90 years.

Clearly, James Franklin is a good coach, or he could not have accomplished what he did at


His 14 – 12 over all record at Penn State is not impressive, but his recruiting last year was really good. Plus, they have some really good talent lined up for the 2016 recruiting class.

The Nittany Lions return 15 starters for next season and maybe the best news is that they return 4 out of 5 Offensive Linemen. The Offensive Line has been one of their problem positions over the past couple of seasons and now they have some experience and they have some young talent coming up as well.

They did lose Quarterback Christian Hackenberg, but Trace McSorley or Tommy Stevens may give Franklin more options to run the type of Offense he had at Vanderbilt.

Another issue the Nittany Lions will have next season is replacing 3 out of 4 Defensive Linemen.


Like many other national programs like Alabama, Texas, Michigan, USC and so many other traditionally good programs, the fans are spoiled. Joe Paterno led the Nittany Lions to a 409-136-3 record and the fans are used to winning and winning big. 7-6 records are not going to get it done.

But, James Franklin is going to need at least this season and maybe even the next to prove he is up to the task.

I’m predicting big things for James Franklin and Penn State in 2016. It’s going to be tough with Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State all in the Eastern Division of the Big 10 Conference.

But, James Franklin should remove himself from that dreaded Hot Seat next season.

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