Report: Vanderbilt's James Franklin atop Penn State list

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If Penn State loses coach Bill O'Brien to the Houston Texans or any other NFL coaching vacancy, the Nittany Lions would have Vanderbilt coach James Franklin atop their list of potential replacements, according to pennlive.com.

Franklin has led the Commodores to three bowl appearances in his first three years at the school, including this year in the BBVA Compass Bowl against Houston on Jan. 4. He also helped the program post back-to-back wins over in-state rival Tennessee for the first time since the 1920s.

Like O'Brien, Franklin also is expected to draw interest from the NFL ranks. But according to the report, Penn State already is compiling a short list of coaching targets in anticipation of a move by O'Brien. A report from NFL Media insider Ian Rapoport also suggested Sunday that Penn State Director of Athletics Dave Joyner could fly to Tampa as early as today to meet with Greg Schiano, who was fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Schiano was linked to the open Penn State job two years ago before the job went to O'Brien, and Schiano took the job in Tampa Bay.

Franklin grew up in the Philadelphia area, and Joyner is said to be impressed with Franklin.

Franklin has declined to comment on job openings at both Southern Cal and Texas by giving awkward, non-responsive answers to any questions about his coaching future.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread.*

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