James Franklin stood tall in Indianapolis last December as the unlikely champion of the Big Ten, and Penn State has rewarded him for it handsomely. Penn State announced Friday afternoon that it has signed the fourth-year coach to a six-year contract extension worth $5.738 million per year. That deal includes retention bonuses paid at the end of each year of the contract.
"My family and I are very thankful to be a part of the Penn State community," Franklin said in a statement. "I am pleased with the progress our program has made in the community, in the classroom and on the field. I look forward to diligently working with President Barron and Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour on implementing a plan that puts our University and our student-athletes in the best position to compete on the field and in life."
Franklin will make $4.3 million during the 2017 season as part of a contract will escalate each year through the 2022 season in which he will make $6.3 million. He has a $2 million buyout for the 2017 season and a $1 million buyout for every subsequent year.
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In addition to the guaranteed money, Franklin's contract is loaded with incentives including $800,000 for a national title, $400,000 for a College Football Playoff appearance and $350,000 for winning the Big Ten Championship Game. His incentives are capped at $1 million per year.
"James and his staff have done an exceptional job with our football student-athletes and in all aspects of the football program," athletic director Sandy Barbour said in a statement. "His values are Penn State's values and they resonate throughout every member of the organization and team he has built. James is a tremendous leader of young men, motivating them to extend their reach and impact far beyond what they might have thought possible on the field, in the classroom and community. We are excited about continuing to work together to strive to make a lifetime of impact, win championships and celebrate many successes on and off the field along the way."
Franklin is 25-15 at Penn State after taking over for Bill O'Brien amid NCAA sanctions. Under Franklin's watch, the sanctions were lifted, the offense evolved into a force under stars like running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley, and the Nittany Lions became relevant again on the national stage.
He was named the Woody Hayes Coach of the Year for his 11-3 (8-1 Big Ten) record in the Big Ten title year of 2016, and he has the program ranked sixth in the preseason coaches poll.
Prior to this three seasons in Happy Valley, Franklin perennial SEC East doormat Vanderbilt to consecutive nine-win seasons and three straight bowl games. The 45-year-old Franklin is 49-30 overall in six seasons as a college head coach.
Penn State opens its season Sept. 2 at home against Akron.