If you go 14-11 as a relatively young coach in two seasons at Vanderbilt, your name is probably going to come up in connection with more than a couple of head coaching vacancies. With N.C. State dismissing coach Tom O’Brien today, the Raleigh News and Observer is reporting that N.C. State is likely to target Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin for the job because of his prior relationship at Maryland with current N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow. The paper reports that when Yow was at Maryland, she hired Franklin to eventually replace ex-Terps coach Ralph Friedgen in 2010 , but the succession plan fell through when Yow left Maryland later that year.
Franklin led the Commodores to an 8-4 record this year, with a 5-3 mark in SEC play. There is a strong argument that he has already taken that program as far as it can go. The Wolfpack’s well-reasoned interest in James Franklin presents an interesting question. Is the N.C. State job really that much of a promotion over being the head coach of an SEC program where winning 6-8 games a year gets you an extension? N.C. State may not have Vanderbilt’s restrictive academic standards, but UNC has traditionally been a much more attractive option for in-state recruits. Also, if Franklin is truly interested in leaving Nashville, should he wait to see what happens with the current SEC openings (Auburn, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky) before entertaining N.C. State? This will be an interesting story to watch as we enter what promises to be a frenzied offseason on the college coaching front.