COLLEGE PARK — Vanderbilt is talking to Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin about becoming its next head football coach, and Franklin has indicated he wants the job, according to officials with knowledge of the process.
If Franklin signs with Vanderbilt, it would mean the end of Maryland's nearly two-year-old plan to have him succeed Ralph Friedgen as Maryland coach when Friedgen's contract expires at the end of the 2011 season. It would raise questions about whether Maryland would grant Friedgen an extension once his planned replacement left the school.
And it would leave Maryland without its offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and top recruiter -- Franklin was busy recruiting for the Terps this week at several Baltimore high schools.
Officials -- who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the process -- cautioned that a deal was not done.
Vanderbilt said only that the process of bringing a new football coach to the Southeastern Conference school was continuing. "There are no plans for an announcement," said Vanderbilt athletics spokesman Rod Williamson. Franklin did not return text and phone messages Tuesday afternoon.
Franklin's recruiting skills are a big reason Maryland signed a deal in February 2009 under which he was contractually due to receive $1 million from the school if not elevated to succeed Friedgen by Jan. 2, 2012. At the time, Franklin, 38, had an offer from the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be a top assistant, according to Maryland.
The "head coach option" agreement was signed by former athletic director Debbie Yow, who is now at North Carolina State, and by Friedgen and Franklin.
The planned succession was complicated when Yow left Maryland before the season and Friedgen indicated he might want a contract extension to continue beyond the 2011 season.
Franklin said in an interview before the season that Yow's departure did not affect the terms of the agreement. "Nothing has changed," Franklin said then. "There was a contract. There still is a contract. It's signed; it's binding."
But Yow's replacement, Kevin Anderson, told The Sun in October that he was not a fan of "coach-in-waiting" agreements generally. "I'm going to go out on this limb: I can't see how this [plan] serves the program well," Anderson said.
Anderson declined to comment on Franklin Tuesday afternoon through a Maryland athletics spokesman.
Franklin is a former college quarterback at East Stroudsburg (Pa.). He was a Maryland assistant before becoming the Green Bay Packers wide receivers coach and, later, offensive coordinator at Kansas State. His Kansas State offense averaged 285.4passing yards in 2007.
He returned to Maryland in 2008.
Franklin is known for his passion. At halftime of Maryland's 2008 victory over California, a buoyant Franklin punched an erasable board used to diagram plays, sending it tumbling to the floor. "He's a maniac sometimes," his former quarterback, Chris Turner, said in 2009.