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AD says search for Penn State coach progressing

| Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, 7:48 p.m.

For the second time in a six-day span, Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner said he expects a new football coach to be named “in a matter of days.”

Clues emerged Tuesday as to whom that announcement could feature.

In a 70-word statement released on the PSU athletic department's official website, Joyner characterized the search as “robust” and “progressing very well.”

The release, which did not mention any candidates' names, came out about 2½ hours after ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin had emerged as the “clear frontrunner” in the derby to replace Bill O'Brien.

USA Today followed that with a report in which an unnamed source said Franklin would be inclined to accept that position if Penn State offered it to him.

Speculation ramped up about the mutual interest between 41-year-old Franklin and Penn State when it was discovered that both of Vanderbilt's coordinators, John Donovan (offense) and Bob Shoop (defense), had followed on Twitter at least four high school players who were verbal commitments to Penn State's 2014 recruiting class.

Later, though, Donovan and Shoop followed other recruits, including those who had committed to Louisville, another team that is without a head coach after Charlie Strong left for Texas. A Penn State recruit told ESPN Vanderbilt coaches followed them on Twitter “in case” Franklin takes the job.

Franklin (Langhorne) and Shoop (Oakmont) are Pennsylvania natives, as is Commodores assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brent Pry (Altoona).

Franklin has taken Vanderbilt to a bowl game during each of his three seasons at the Nashville-based private school.

The Commodores completed a second consecutive 9-4 season with a win over Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Until 2012, Vanderbilt had not won nine games in a season since 1915 and had only two nine-win seasons in school history.

Among others linked to Penn State, Mike Munchak will have an interview with the Detroit Lions on Friday, according to ESPN.

Chris Adamski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

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