Penn State made it official this morning, announcing that James Franklin is the Nittany Lions' new football coach.
Penn State's compensation committee unanimously approved Franklin's contract around 9 a.m., and at 9:06 the school released a statement confirming the hire. At the same time, Franklin was meeting with his players at Vanderbilt to tell them the news.
"I can't tell you how excited I am to come home," Franklin, a Langhorne native, said in a PSU release. "I grew up watching Penn State football and now to be at the helm of such a storied program is a tremendous honor.
"It's important to me to be a part of a university that strives for excellence in everything they do. When football student-athletes come to Penn State, they have a unique opportunity to receive a premium education while playing at the highest level of competition.
"I'm incredibly excited to get to know the students, alumni, and fans who have demonstrated such loyalty to the University as a whole and to the football program in particular," Franklin added. "I've worked my way through every division of football and no other school boasts a fan base like we do. We Are...Penn State!!"
Franklin's contract is for six years at more than $4.5 million per year, according to CBSSports.com. If correct, that would make him one of the top 10 highest-paid coaches in the country.
Franklin succeeds Bill O'Brien, who left PSU after two seasons to become coach of the NFL's Houston Texans.
Franklin will be in State College this afternoon for a 4:15 news conference to be introduced as the new coach.
"We launched this search with several priorities, but our primary focus was to identify someone who shared our commitment to integrity, academics and winning championships," PSU athletic director Dave Joyner, who led the search, said in the university statement.
"We have found that person in James Franklin. Coach Franklin is a highly regarded coach and tremendous leader, but more importantly, he shares the same vision for Penn State Football that we, and our fans, have for the program. His record shows that he takes great pride in the academic and athletic success of his student-athletes. We're thrilled to welcome Coach Franklin to Penn State."
Franklin led Vanderbilt to a 24-15 record in three seasons, including 9-4 each of the past two seasons.
"Dr. Joyner and I have stressed that our No. 1 priority in hiring a new coach was to hire an outstanding leader for our football program, one who will continue our long tradition of student-athlete success on the field and in the classroom," PSU President Rodney Erickson said. "We have achieved that goal. On behalf of the University and the entire Nittany Lion Nation, I am proud to welcome James Franklin as Penn State's 16th head football coach.
"Coach Franklin's record of success is extraordinary, but even more impressive is his passion for not only the game of football, but also creating an atmosphere in which student-athletes can succeed. His character, work ethic, values and knowledge of the game make him an outstanding fit for our program and to lead our student-athletes."