Penn State is preparing for Texas A&M to make a run at James Franklin

Penn State officials are preparing for Texas A&M to make a run at hiring James Franklin should Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies part ways, CBS Sports has learned.

Franklin, in his fourth season with Penn State, has helped resurrect the Nittany Lions from crippling NCAA penalties in the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Penn State won the Big Ten in 2016, 4 1/2 years after those penalties were handed down.

Franklin's head-coaching profile has steadily improved since leaving Maryland for Vanderbilt in 2011. Since that time, he has won nine games twice at Vandy before capturing the Big Ten title and leading the Nittany Lions to the Rose Bowl last season.

In August, Franklin agreed to a three-year extension worth $19.75 million that takes him through the 2022 season. His buyout, should he leave after this season, is $2 million.

In late 2013, Sumlin signed a six-year, $30 million contract with Texas A&M. He is reportedly guaranteed the remainder of his contract if fired without cause. 

There is no question Penn State wants to keep its coach and may have to outbid suitors less than a year after signing Franklin to an extension.

It's a bit more complicated at Texas A&M. There is no secret Sumlin is under fire. However, the Aggies are off to a 4-2 start, including a respectable eight-point loss at Alabama and one-point stunner of a defeat at UCLA to open the season. In fact, Texas A&M played Bama closer than any opponent in a loss since Ole Miss last September (48-43).

The case can be made that TAMU is the fourth-best program in the SEC at the moment (behind Alabama, Georgia and Auburn).

Sumlin remains one of only six active coaches to beat Nick Saban since he arrived at Alabama in 2007. The others are Urban Meyer, Dabo Swinney, Mark Richt, Gus Malzahn and Kyle Whittingham.

Sumlin is also one of the most respected coaches in the game having coached a Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel) and four other consensus All-Americans. He has the best record of any Aggies coach (44-21, .677) since R.C. Slocum left in 2002, though Texas A&M hasn't won a conference title since 1998.

In 10 years as a head coach, Sumlin has only one losing season (5-7 in 2010 with Houston).

Earlier this year, Sumlin was disparaged by a Texas A&M regent. A racist letter was sent to the coach's home in September.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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