Vanderbilt University is looking for a new football coach, and it's an opening that never has been more attractive.
James Franklin met with Commodores players for a final time Saturday morning before leaving to be introduced as Penn State's new coach. Franklin informed Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams on Friday night that he had accepted the Nittany Lions position.
The Commodores last weekend completed their second consecutive 9-4 season with a 41-24 defeat of Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.
"There is no question that James Franklin's outstanding work has helped put Vanderbilt football on the national stage," Williams said Saturday in a released statement. "We are extremely sorry to see the Franklin family leave our university and community, and we thank them and wish them the very best. Our program is stronger in every way than it was just a few short years ago.
"While I will personally miss them, I want to assure our campus community and Commodore Nation that we are prepared to begin the process that we've used in the past to identify and hire our other very successful head coaches."
Franklin went 24-15 in three seasons with the Commodores, leading a program that never had made consecutive bowl appearances to three in a row. He professed last weekend that Vanderbilt would be even better next season, and the prospects are bright with eight home games and a nonconference schedule containing Temple, Massachusetts, Old Dominion and Charleston Southern.
The Commodores have been more competitive than ever on the recruiting front, with Rivals.com ranking their 2012 signing class 29th nationally and last year's class 19th. Vanderbilt entered this weekend with the No. 26 class of commitments for 2014.
"He's a great coach who built a culture here," senior cornerback Andre Hal said after the bowl. "He motivated us. We had the same players who went 2-10 the two seasons before he got here, but he made us believe that we could win, and we did win."
Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth, who made his share of recruiting trips to Nashville when he was North Alabama's coach for seven seasons, and Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris could be potential Commodores candidates. Morris is college football's highest-paid assistant at $1.3 million annually.
Several prominent defensive coordinators, such as Stanford's Derek Mason and Michigan State's Pat Narduzzi, could be considered, as could Vanderbilt's Bob Shoop if he doesn't follow Franklin to Penn State.
"We have every expectation to hire an outstanding new football coach to build upon the progress that has been made in recent years," Williams said.
Rumph leaving Tide
Multiple media outlets reported Saturday night that Alabama defensive line coach Chris Rumph is leaving for the same position at Texas under new coach Charlie Strong.
Rumph has been with the Crimson Tide for the past three seasons, helping them go 36-4 with two national championships. He is the second Alabama assistant to leave, with offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier having departed for Michigan and having been replaced by former Tennessee and Southern Cal head coach Lane Kiffin.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.