Day five of the Penn State coaching search saw what was described as a "clear frontrunner" emerge in Vanderbilt's James Franklin, although that school's athletic director claimed he expects the coach to stay put.
The "clear frontrunner" label was placed on Franklin by veteran college football reporter Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com. Several media outlets reported that Franklin would be expected to take the Penn State job if he receives an offer, which apparently has yet to come.
However, Vanderbilt AD David Williams told CBSSports.com the following:
"I expect James to be our football coach. I'm planning on it. We're looking at facilities. We're working on some stuff. I have all thoughts that he's going to be our football coach. I'll do everything I can to make sure that he is."
Franklin, who already interviewed for the PSU job, has done superb work in three seasons at Vanderbilt, turning one of the nation's least-successful programs over the past 25 years into a winner the past two seasons. The Commodores have gone 9-4 each of the past two years and also won their bowl games.
The 41-year-old coach is a Pennsylvania native, which could add to the allure of him wanting to come to Penn State.
It was two years ago Tuesday that Bill O'Brien was introduced to Penn State for his first news conference as head coach.
Sources reached by the Mirror who know Franklin said they believe he is a college coach at heart, someone who enjoys working with younger players. That's a key part of the equation since Franklin also reportedly is being considered by some NFL teams, including the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns.
Penn State also has interviewed former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak and Miami coach Al Golden, although Golden has said he's not a candidate for any other jobs.
Interim head coach Larry Johnson also is expected to receive an interview, but it's unclear if that's already taken place.
Munchak is set to interview with the Detroit Lions on Friday, according to ESPN. Munchak received an offer for a pay raise by Titans officials, with the condition that he fire many of his assistant coaches. When he refused, the team fired him.
Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:
"The search for the new leader of the Penn State football program is progressing very well. We are on schedule and I anticipate having the new head coach in place in a matter of days. The search is robust as we anticipated it would be and we have an excellent pool of candidates. I have heard from many coaches, or their representatives, who have expressed their interest in the position."
Joyner also said it would be a "matter of days" when he addressed the media Thursday.