Penn State’s James Franklin plays down USC speculation

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin has been linked with the USC Trojans in rumors and reports for years, and that continued Monday shortly after USC athletic director Mike Bohn confirmed the school had parted ways with head coach Clay Helton.

Franklin’s program began the season with back-to-back wins and is now preparing to face the No. 22 Auburn Tigers this Saturday night, so the coach understandably didn’t want to discuss any job openings on Tuesday. 

“As you know, I can’t stand any form of distraction,” Franklin explained, per Nubyjas Wilborn of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ll discuss this today with our leadership council so that we can make sure all of our energy is on our preparation for Auburn.” 

Franklin continued: “That’s how we’ll handle it. I’m going to talk to the leadership council today about it.” 

Penn State is ranked No. 10. 

Wilborn adds that Franklin, who holds a record of 62-28 with Penn State and is in his eighth year with the university, is under contract through 2025, and that deal includes a buyout worth $4 million. It’s likely neither of those realities would prevent the 49-year-old from pursuing a move to USC if he’s keen on relocating to the West Coast, and his refusal to vehemently deny he’s interested in the available gig could ultimately sink his team’s chances of accomplishing something special this fall if such stories become a distraction in the locker room.  

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