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Report: James Franklin 'clear front-runner' for Penn State job

Stephen Morton/Associated Press
Vanderbilt's James Franklin is being pursued by college football and NFL teams.

Anchor up?

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, who brought the slogan "anchor down" to the Commodores three years ago and proceeded to lead the program to bowl appearances in all three seasons, could be poised to take the coaching vacancy at Penn State.

A source told cbssports.com that Franklin had emerged as a clear front-runner to replace Bill O'Brien, who left PSU after two years to become coach of the Houston Texans. As well, there is the revelation at coachingsearch.com that Vanderbilt's offensive and defensive coordinators are beginning to follow Penn State recruits on Twitter.

A Franklin move to Penn State would shorten the search lists of the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns. According to NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport, Franklin was scheduled to interview with the Redskins this week, and the Browns had been pushing to interview him, as well.

His departure, however, won't come without a fight.

Vanderbilt director of athletics David Williams told cbssports.com that he intends to keep the coach.

"I expect James to be our football coach. I'm planning on it," Williams said. "We're looking at facilities. We're working on some stuff. I have all thoughts that he's going to be our football coach. I'll do everything I can to make sure that he is."

Franklin has been widely reported as a strong candidate for the Penn State job, particularly after Miami Hurricanes coach Al Golden withdrew from the running. Franklin grew up in Langhorne, Pa., about three hours from Penn State's campus.

What might be Franklin's last Vanderbilt team beat Houston 41-24 in the Compass Bowl on Saturday.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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