College Football news roundup: Bobby Petrino talks, James Franklin balks & Tre Mason walks

Andy Lyons

An active day on the coaching carousel overshadowed an exodus of players to the pro ranks.

Coaching Changes

Penn State

As Wednesday night came to a close, it looked as if James Frankin's appointment as the next head coach at Penn State was imminent. Penn State officials had flown to Franklin's vacation home, and Pennsylvania reporters were announcing that they had offered Franklin the job.

By Thursday morning, prominent national reporters like CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman and ESPN's Brett McMurphy had confirmed that Franklin had accepted the job.

For a few fleeting hours, it looked as if Penn State had made a home-run hire. And then Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams told reporters that he had not been told of Franklin's departure, and that the reports were untrue.

As the afternoon turned to evening, the situation had not moved significantly from the day before. The Penn State job is Franklin's if he wants it. Reports indicate that Franklin is going to eventually take it, but Vanderbilt's adamant denials throw a significant amount of doubt on those reports. Through it all, Franklin has remained largely silent. Friday could be the final day of the Penn State search, or it could be the day that the Nittany Lions find themselves yet again at square one.


Bobby Petrino, on the other hand, is not waiting around. The much-traveled coach returned to Louisville Wednesday and engaged reporters in one of the most ironic press conferences ever Thursday.

What Petrino did was stick to his talking points. He used the term "destination job" multiple times, he said it was a mistake leaving Louisville the first time and he stated that he was both emotionally and contractually tied to finishing his career in Louisville. He said everything he needed to say to keep those already in his camp in their place, and set the table to win more over once he begins pacing the sidelines inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium again.

The details of Petrino's contract were also announced Thursday: A seven-year deal worth $3.5 million per season, with a $10 million buyout in the first four years. Athletic director Tom Jurich told reporters that the contract includes "morality clauses," but did not detail what those would be.

Petrino assembled a staff in about 24 hours. Alabama-Birmingham head coach Garrick McGee left that position to become Petrino's offensive coordinator. McGee had worked under Petrino at Arkansas before going to UAB. Petrino also reportedly hired Alabama Director of Player Personnel Kevin Steele as defensive coordinator. Steele previously coordinated the defense for Clemson and spent four seasons as head coach at Baylor. Iowa State offensive line coach Chris Klenakis is headed to Louisville in the same role.


The announcement that Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was leaving for Michigan Wednesday started one of the juiciest rumors of this year's coaching carousel: Former USC coach Lane Kiffin, who spent December with Nick Saban evaluating Alabama's offense, would be in play for the vacancy.

Those rumors got even more fuel Thursday, as reports surfaced that Kiffin will interview for the Alabama offensive coordinator position later this week. He's hardly the only potential coach in play for the position, but he likely has a head start due to his bowl practice assistance.

Kiffin, of course, has SEC experience, having coached the Tennessee Volunteers for one season before bolting for USC.

Western Kentucky

With Petrino leaving after one season, the Hilltoppers faced a second consecutive offseason with a new coach. They opted to stay inside the program, promoting offensive coordinator and former XFL quarterback Jeff Brohm to the top spot.

NFL Draft entrants

Auburn running back Tre Mason announced that he is going to skip his senior season and enter the draft this spring. Mason ran for more than 1,800 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Tigers in 2013, and was a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Mason will be joined in the draft by a pair of underclassmen from rival Alabama: Defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and tackle Cyrus Kouandjio both announced they were going pro. Both were expected, though Kouandjio had reportedly been on the fence. Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is taking his national championship ring to the NFL, as well.

Not everyone has decided to leave school, though. Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, Texas A&M offensive lineman Cedric Ogbuehi, Florida State tight end and famous golf grandson Nick O'Leary, and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller are all coming back for one more season.

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