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Comparing James Franklin’s New Contract To The College Football Landscape

The James Franklin era of Penn State football got much longer last week as the head coach signed a new 10-year, $70 million deal with Penn State to kick off a chaotic week in college football.

The extension was met with mixed feelings among fans, especially after the team’s loss to No. 12 Michigan State in its last regular-season game of 2021. Even though some may not be fond of the terms of the contract, it’s important to put the deal into perspective and analyze how it compares to others in college football.

Franklin’s new extension is an upgrade over his previous extension signed in 2019, which was worth $35.4 million for six years. The new deal will make him the second-highest paid coach in the Big Ten behind Mel Tucker, who was recently granted a 10-year, $95 million extension at Michigan State. Franklin sits in front of Ryan Day, but the Ohio State coach is set to earn about $7.6 million next season.

In the national ranks, Franklin is now the ninth-highest-paid coach in the country per year, just behind Georgia’s Kirby Smart, who has an annual base salary of $7.133 million.

There are also some hefty bonuses included in Franklin’s new extension as well, with some even bigger than the incentives included in Mel Tucker’s new contract. Penn State’s coach can earn $350,000 for winning a Big Ten title, $400,000 for making a College Football Playoff appearance, and $800,000 for winning a national title, compared to Tucker’s bonuses of $200,000, $275,000, and $500,000, respectively. With perhaps the biggest incentives in the Big Ten, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh can earn $1 million for winning a Big Ten and national title even though he makes only $4.2 million per year.

Looking inside Penn State Athletics, Franklin’s $7 million annual base salary makes up about 16.27% of the department’s fiscal year 2020 total ticket sales and 18.61% of Penn State football’s 2019 ticket sales, according to Penn State Athletics’ 2019-20 NCAA Financial Report. Franklin’s base pay matches 21.45% of money spent on coaches’ salaries and bonuses, 99.22% of all team’s travel expenses, and 32.29% on student aid given by Penn State Athletics.

Of course, we can’t forget about Franklin’s upgraded private plane hours, which is becoming more common in college football contracts for coaches across the country. His 55 hours of personal private jet use included in the deal is five hours more than Day, Tucker, and even Brian Kelly receive from their respective universities. For now, Franklin’s airfare appears to be the most provided to any FBS coach, although the details of Lincoln Riley’s 24/7 personal use of USC’s private jet outlined in his new contract are unconfirmed.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at [email protected].

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