The wait and speculation is over — James Franklin is Vanderbilt’s new football coach.
Franklin, who spent the last three years as Maryland’s offensive coordinator, was officially announced as the Commodores’ next coach on Vanderbilt’s Facebook page on Friday morning. A press conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.
The announcement ends a nearly three-week long coaching search after Robbie Caldwell resigned on the day of Vanderbilt’s last game of the season on Nov. 27. Caldwell, who had been an assistant coach at Vanderbilt since 2002, took over in July after Bobby Johnson suddenly resigned. Caldwell was just 2-10 in his only season.
On Sunday night, reports emerged that Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn had accepted an offer to become Vanderbilt’s next coach. On Monday, he signed a contract extension to stay at Auburn.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported Franklin would be Vanderbilt’s next coach. After two days of silence on both sides, reports again surfaced Thursday night that Franklin would be named Vanderbilt’s head coach on Friday.
Franklin, 38, is Vanderbilt’s first African-American head coach for a major sport and the 27th head coach in the football program’s history. Since graduating in 1995 from Division II East Stroudsburg (Pa.) — where he played quarterback — Franklin, a native of Langhorne, Pa., has been an assistant coach for seven different schools. In addition, he has had three NFL minority coaching internships with the Miami Dolphins (1998), Philadelphia Eagles (1999) and Minnesota Vikings (2008).
Prior to his time at Maryland, Franklin served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Kansas State during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Prior to that, he spent one year as the Green Bay Packers’ wide receivers head coach. From 2000-04, he served as Maryland’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.
He was named Maryland’s head coach-in-waiting in February of 2009. If he didn’t succeed Ralph Friedgen by January 2012, Franklin was owed $1 million by Maryland.
This season, Franklin helped guide the Terrapins to an 8-4 record and they will play East Carolina in the Military Bowl on Dec. 29. Maryland ranked 42nd in the nation in scoring offense, 63rd in passing offense, 85th in total offense and 94th in rushing offense.
He was also responsible for coaching the quarterbacks, with freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien being named the ACC’s Rookie of the Year.