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Senior College Football Columnist

Franklin to become next head coach at Penn State

James Franklin was 18-8 at Vanderbilt, including 9-5 in his last 14 SEC games. (USATSI)
James Franklin was 24-15 at Vanderbilt, including 9-5 in his final 14 SEC games. (USATSI)

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is expected to be the next head coach at Penn State, a source told CBSSports.com on Thursday morning.

There are still many details to be sorted out on both sides within the next 48 hours.

The 41-year-old Franklin, a Pennsylvania native, worked wonders in his three seasons at Vandy. Franklin, known for being very organized, a dogged recruiter and energetic, walked into the toughest conference in college football three years ago and transformed a program that won just 13 SEC games in the previous 10 seasons into one that has now had back-to-back Top 25 finishes.

After a 6-7 debut season in Nashville, the charismatic Franklin coached the Commodores to an 18-8 record the last two seasons and a 9-5 mark in their past 14 SEC games. He also beat No. 15 Georgia this past season as part of the Commodores pulling off an unlikely SEC trifecta with wins over UGA, Florida and Tennessee -- the three traditional powerhouses of the SEC East.

Franklin would replace Bill O'Brien, who spent two seasons in State College and went 15-9 with the Nittany Lions despite taking over a program in chaos. The new coach would inherit a roster without much depth, but does have a blue-chip QB in Christian Hackenberg who is coming off a terrific freshman season. Penn State, which was hit with crippling NCAA sanctions after O'Brien took over the program, got some scholarship relief and sources says it is optimistic the NCAA also might opt to reduce the bowl ban placed on the program.

Penn State also considered Miami head coach Al Golden and former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak, both former Nittany Lions players. PSU also interviewed San Francisco 49ers assistant Greg Roman for the job Monday.

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