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              === Penn State hires Franklin as football coach ===
 
 University  Park, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Penn State has named James Franklin
 its new head football coach.
 
 The  Pennsylvania native  takes  over  the Nittany  Lions  after a  three-year
 coaching stint at Vanderbilt.
 
 "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," Penn State president Rodney Erickson said
 in a statement Saturday.
 
 ESPN  reported  that Franklin received a  multi-year contract worth as much as
 $4.5 million annually.
 
 Franklin  becomes Penn  State's 16th  head  football coach  and succeeds  Bill
 O'Brien,  who accepted  the head-coaching  job with  the NFL's  Houston Texans
 earlier  this month  after two  seasons.  O'Brien guided  the program  through
 unprecedented  sanctions levied  by the NCAA in response to the Jerry Sandusky
 child sex-abuse scandal, compiling records of 8-4 and 7-5.
 
 The  41-year-old  Franklin is thrilled to  "come home" and continue to rebuild
 this storied program.
 
 "I  grew up  watching Penn State football and  now to be at the helm of such a
 storied  program  is a  tremendous  honor,"  he  said  in a  statement.  "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.  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  emerged as  one of the most sought-after commodities in the coaching
 community   after   restoring   a   long-suffering   Vanderbilt   program   to
 respectability.  The  Commodores put together  a second straight 9-4 season in
 2013 and capped the campaign with a 41-24 win over Houston in last week's BBVA
 Compass Bowl.
 
 Vanderbilt  posted a  9-7 record  in  the challenging  SEC over  the past  two
 seasons despite Franklin having to navigate through higher academic guidelines
 than the majority of his conference peers.
 
 Prior  to  his arrival,  the  Commodores  had  just  one winning  season  from
 1983-2010 and were coming off consecutive 2-10 campaigns. He led the team to a
 four-win improvement and a berth in the Liberty Bowl in his first season.
 
 01/11 10:15:17 ET