Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is expected to take the Penn State job, according to CBSSports.com and ESPN.
However, Vanderbilt athletics director David Williams said tonight that he and Franklin have texted recently and his football coach is "still trying to make a decision" and "could do either one" in regards to leaving for Penn State or returning for a fourth season in Nashville.
"He and his family are doing what most people would do, and I think it's a tough decision," Williams said. "My gut reaction is that he will stay Vanderbilt's football coach."
PREVIOUSLY: Franklin believes he's Penn State's top choice
COACH'S CORNER: Q&A with James Franklin
The Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.) reported Thursday that the next Penn State coach's contract would likely be approved during a special meeting on Saturday. The report said the contract will be considered in a 9 a.m. conference call with the Board of Trustees compensation committee.
"I have no information to suggest that," said Williams, who reiterated that Franklin would inform him of any change. "I don't know how Penn State does what they do."
Franklin did not return calls seeking comment.
Commodores defensive end Caleb Azubike confirmed via text that he spoke with Franklin today and "he hasn't made a decision yet. And he's still pondering. Don't believe the media."
There was already some reaction from the Vanderbilt football team on Twitter.
On Twitter, Azubike posted: "No Decision Has Been Made! First Hand Knowledge."
Lineman Andrew Jelks tweeted: "I've never seen a coach make a tackle, block, or catch a pass.. We gonna be just fine Vandy Nation.. Believe that #ANCHORDOWN"
Running back Brian Kimbrow tweeted: "Time to gather the troops and go to work! It's simple we know what success feels like and it's well appreciated....We know how to win!!!"
Lineman Kyle Woestmann tweeted: "Football is a business. James Franklin is a good man. If you can't be positive, don't be a part of#Vandynation. Thanks."
The Scranton (Pa.) Times Tribune reported there was an hours-long meeting Wednesday between Franklin and the search committee in Destin, Fla.
Dozens of reporters gathered at University Park Airport in State College, Pa., before 10 p.m. to see Penn State President Rodney Erickson and athletics director Dave Joyner exit a flight from Destin, Fla., according to media reports, including The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pa. Franklin was not on the plane.
Franklin has a house in Destin, according to Williams.
Williams confirmed Wednesday that Franklin is out of town with his family taking a couple of days off that were planned in advance.
Williams on Wednesday said he did not know Franklin's exact whereabouts.
"I don't know about any planes," Williams said. "We have texted, short texts, so I've been in touch with him (Wednesday). I don't know exactly where he is. They do have a place in Destin. They could be there. It's possible they could be going to visit relatives.
Williams spoke on local radio stations Wednesday, praising Franklin and offering Vanderbilt's case to keep him.
He even declared he would be willing to shave his head if it would help Franklin remain in Nashville.
Williams said that Vanderbilt could and would be competitive in what it offers Franklin to stay. He said that the plans for more facility and stadium upgrades are still on track — although changing timelines for those projects is difficult due to the design and construction process.
"I don't think any of this has to do with what you do and what they (other schools) do," Williams said.
"James is fully aware of what Vanderbilt can and is willing to do. What is a top 25 program? Well, I think we're now a top 25 program. You (Franklin) made us a top 25 program. You don't have to go anywhere to be at a top 25 program."
Vanderbilt alumnus and PGA golfer Brandt Snedeker offered his services, via Twitter, in a light-hearted effort to entice Franklin to remain on West End: "Sweetening the offer to keep @jamesfranklinvu here.. Free golf lessons for life if he stays.. Impossible to turn down!! #bestcoachanywhere"
If Franklin is going to leave, it would help Vanderbilt for things to move along quickly with national signing day on Feb. 5 and a recruiting class in limbo.
"If there's going to be a change, then yeah, that needs to happen pretty quickly," Williams said. "But that's like trying to figure out who you're going to marry if your wife goes away.
"We're reacting to things that you guys have heard. I haven't heard them. I'm going about my business at Vanderbilt. If and when I find out something different, I'll know. I don't think the ball is in (Franklin's) court. But maybe it is. Maybe it is if something is going to happen."
Franklin, 41, has led the Commodores to a 24-15 record and three consecutive bowl games.
No other Vanderbilt coach has guided the program to more than one bowl.
Vanderbilt has won nine games in back-to-back seasons and consecutive bowl games for the first time.
This season also was the first time the Commodores beat Georgia, Florida and Tennessee in the same year.
Franklin's roots are in Pennsylvania, where he quarterbacked East Stroudsburg in the early 1990s and later served as an assistant coach there.
Jeff Lockridge also writes for The (Nashville) Tennessean.
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