Penn State head coach James Franklin officially has his contract extension. AP Photo.

What has long been speculated is now official: James Franklin will be Penn State’s football coach long past the 2017 season.

The Penn State Board of Trustees’ compensation committee unanimously approved a contract extension for Franklin at a meeting this morning. The university says it will release the terms of that extension later, but Sports Illustrated is reporting it is a six-year pact that will keep Franklin in Happy Valley through the 2023 campaign.


I’ll keep you informed on the terms of the deal when they become available.

Franklin head calls for his firing early last season after Penn State’s 2-2 start, but the prospect of a long, lucrative extension became brighter as he led the Nittany Lions on an epic run to the Big Ten Championship and its first Rose Bowl appearance since the 2008 season. Asked earlier this month at Penn State’s preseason media day about no deal being reached as practice began, Franklin shooed away any doubts that he worried about his standing with the university, saying he had “no concerns” a deal would get done. Athletic director Sandy Barbour also said on multiple occasions since last season her preference was to keep Franklin and his staff on the sidelines.

Franklin signed a four-year contract to coach the Nittany Lions in January of 2014 after Bill O’Brien’s departure for the Houston Texans.

UPDATE: Penn State has indeed announced the terms of Franklin’s deal, and you can look the contract over yourself here.

But here’s what I make of it:

Essentially, it’s a six-year deal worth $32 million. In guaranteed money, that’s about $5.33 million.

Franklin’s base salary will jump from $1.6 million this year to $3.55 million in 2022. But he’ll get $2.2 million per year in radio and TV money, as well as $500,000 as part of the Nike funds. That’s how it jumps to a $32 million total.

BONUSES: This is where coaches can really make big bucks, and if Penn State is a championship-level program, Franklin will as well.

  • He’s practically guaranteed a $200,000 bonus, which he will receive if Penn State makes a bowl appearance.
  • If Penn State appears in the Big Ten Championship Game, Franklin will net a $250,000 bonus; If Penn State wins the Big Ten Championship Game, he gets $350,000. If the Nittany Lions win the Big Ten East Division but don’t participate in the title game, he still walks away with $150,000.
  • If Penn State wins the national championship game, Franklin lands the big bonus, $800,000.
  • He’ll get $500,000 if Penn State loses in the national championship game, $400,000 if it lands in the playoff and $300,000 if it earns a bid to one of the four bowls in the College Football Playoff rotation that aren’t hosting a semifinal that particular season.
  • If he wins the national Coach of the Year award, Franklin nets $150,000 in bonus money. It’s $100,000 if he’s the Big Ten coach of the year.

Total bonus money, according to the contract, can not exceed $1 million. But, the only way Franklin would possibly exceed that number is if Penn State wins the national championship.

RETENTION MONEY: Again, this is practically guaranteed, but not technically a guarantee. But, as long as Franklin is Penn State’s coach, he’ll get a $300,000 bonus every Dec. 31 through 2020. It will be a $500,000 bonus on Dec. 31, 2021 and a $1 million bonus on Dec. 31, 2022.

This is likely where the $5.8 million annual average value came out earlier. The absolutely guaranteed money is $5.3 million on average, and if you add a $300,000 retention bonus and $200,000 for leading the team to any old bowl game, you get to $5.8 million.

IF HE LEAVES: The buyout for another college program or an NFL team to pry Franklin away from Penn State is pretty modest.

If he decides to leave for another job at any point in the 2017 calendar year, Franklin will owe the Nittany Lions $2 million. If he walks away from calendar year 2018 through 2022, it’s a $1 million buyout.

IF HE’S FIRED: Penn State can fire Franklin without cause during the deal, but it will owe him a pretty penny, especially early in the contract.

Franklin will be owed the current-year guaranteed compensation if he’s relieved of his duties, multiplied by the number of years remaining on his contract.

So, for example and as I understand it, if Franklin is fired after the 2019 season, when his guaranteed compensation according to the contract is $5.65 million with three years left on his deal, he’ll walk away with $16.95 million. That would save Penn State about $1 million on the remainder of the deal.

Here is what I’m calculating Franklin’s severance (in effect) if he is fired, without cause before the following seasons begin:

2017: $25.8 million
2018: $22.5 million
2019: $21.4 million
2020: $16.95 million
2021: $11.9 million
2022: $6.25 million

Keep in mind, though: Franklin is not paid by the season, but by calendar year. So, this number would depend on when Penn State makes the decision.

OTHER PERKS: Franklin will also get a $10,000/year automobile allowance and 50 hours of use, per year, of a private aircraft.