Is Franklin a fit at Penn State?

Two key on-field issues (and one off the field) will determine success

Updated: January 11, 2014, 5:13 PM ET
By Rod Gilmore | ESPN Insider

James FranklinKevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesJames Franklin, recently hired as coach of Penn State, was 24-15 at Vanderbilt.

After a relatively slow start, the college football coaching carousel began to spin wildly in the last few weeks. Many were shocked by Charlie Strong's move from Louisville to Texas and Bobby Petrino's back-to-the-future gig at Louisville.

But hardly anyone was stunned by Penn State hiring James Franklin away from Vanderbilt. Franklin had become one of the hottest coaches in the country after taking over a program that was 2-10 the season before he arrived to three consecutive bowls, while compiling an overall record of 24-15. And he did it with an engaging personality and outgoing style, generating excitement for the program and selling Vandy to anyone who would listen (including calling into radio shows as "James from Nashville"). It's no wonder he was on the short list for the jobs at Texas, Penn State, USC and a handful of NFL teams.

But the question now is no longer about whether Franklin is a good coach, or a hot coach on the rise. The real question is, "Is Franklin a good fit at Penn State?"

Sometimes the "hot" coach isn't the right fit for every school. In the case of Franklin and Penn State, I believe you have to look at two significant factors in order to evaluate whether it is a good fit -- recruiting, and Franklin's ability to get the most out of QB Christian Hackenberg – in addition to one off-the-field issue that could loom large in the coming months.

Rod Gilmore

College Football analyst
Rod Gilmore serves as an ESPN studio analyst on SportsCenter and College Football Live, and provides commentary on ESPN's Friday night game telecasts. He writes regularly for ESPN Insider.