New contract pushes Penn State's James Franklin into nation's top five

Written by Frank Bodani/The York Daily Record | Aug 18, 2017 1:53 PM

Penn State head coach James Franklin holds the trophy after Penn State won the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, in Indianapolis. Penn State won 38-31. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(State College) -- James Franklin's long-awaited contract extension was finally announced, just before the start of Penn State's most anticipated season in nearly 20 years.

Penn State's compensation committee met today to discuss and approve the deal. Sports Illustrated reports that Franklin will earn an average of $5.8 annually over six years -- making him the nation's fourth-highest paid coach.

His buyout is $2 million this year, SI reports.

This comes after Franklin, 45, led the Nittany Lions to a most surprising Big Ten Championship run last fall, the program's first outright conference title since 1994.

Franklin was the nation's 11th-highest paid college football coach in 2016, earning $4.5 million per year, according to a report by USA Today.

Since then, Alabama's Nick Saban has signed his own extension, making him America's highest-paid coach in any sport at $11.125 million per year. Michigan's Jim Harbaugh is next at $9 million per year.

Similar phrases would be used in interviews with the leader of the athletic department at the Coaches Caravan in May and Big Ten media days in July, but neither side ever appeared worried that it would not eventually be completed. In fact, Franklin said as much at Penn State media day back on Aug. 5. 

"I'm in football mode now, so I'm focused on the season," he said. "We've been talking about this for a while, and I feel good about it. I don't have any concerns, but my focus is on our team and the 2017 season completely." 

Franklin's current contract, which was released online when he signed on to take over the program back in 2014, is set to run through the 2019 season. Total guaranteed compensation is valued at $4.3 million this year before bonuses and incentives, and was set to rise to $4.4 million in 2018 and $4.5 million in its final year. 

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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