It was a tale of two coaching rumor responses on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was the subject of rumors related to the USC and LSU head coaching jobs. In response, Tomlin was about as emphatic as possible, making it clear that he is offended by the very idea.
Meanwhile, Penn State head coach James Franklin has also been the subject of the same coaching rumors. While Franklin has bristled at questions about his interest in coaching elsewhere, a report that he’s changed his representation to a high-powered agent who represents most of the coaches in the SEC seems to have ignited speculation that he’s angling for the LSU job.
Tuesday, when he had the chance to clear the air, Franklin gave a very generic, coachspeak-y rebuttal to the rumors, to the point where he didn’t even get the name of his next opponent right.
James Franklin has twice said in his current zoom conference call, when asked about distraction of his future being in the news, that his focus is on Illinois. The next opponent is Ohio State, but, hey…
— David Jones (@djoneshoop) October 26, 2021
“My focus is completely on Illinois, and this team, and this program,” Franklin said. “I think I’ve shown over my 8 years my commitment to this university and this community. And that’s kind of my statement.”
That non-answer answer is what we have come to expect from head coaches before they leave their current job for a new one, so Franklin didn’t really do himself any favors. And the fact that he did it on the same day Mike Tomlin showed us how it’s done only made the spotlight shine brighter on him.
Exhibit A: Mike Tomlin
Exhibit B: James Franklin
Two coaches. Two very different answers. About 25 mins apart. pic.twitter.com/okE1wWL3tC
— Ben Stevens (@BenScottStevens) October 26, 2021
Penn State fans are wary of Franklin and they have every right to be, especially as the Nittany Lions continue to falter following a solid run earlier in his tenure. If things keep trending in the current direction, Franklin might not have much of a choice but to look elsewhere for new employment anyway.