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Penn State coach James Franklin addresses USC speculation, doesn’t say if he’d be a candidate

The Nittany Lions coach has been mentioned by national media as a candidate should Southern California fire Clay Helton at the end of the season.

Penn State head coach James Franklin.
Penn State head coach James Franklin.Read morePaul Sancya / AP

Penn State coach James Franklin addressed speculation Tuesday about whether he'd be a candidate for the job at Southern California should the university part ways with Clay Helton after three seasons.

While not saying if he'd be interested in the Trojans' coaching position, Franklin said it was "that time of year where all this stuff happens."

"It's the crazy, mad time of year where these types of things happen," he said at his weekly teleconference before the Nittany Lions' final regular-season game against Maryland.

"As you guys [reporters] know, like always, we're focused on Maryland completely, 100 percent. I don't think it's even fair or right to even be talking about that job from everything I understand about it. But we're completely focused on Maryland."

Franklin has been identified by various national media outlets as a candidate for the USC job. He is 44-20 in his fifth season at Penn State. The Nittany Lions can finish with their third straight 10-win season if they defeat Maryland and go on to win a bowl game.

Franklin signed a contract extension before the 2017 season that runs through 2022. He is making $5.65 million this season. Under terms of the contract, he would owe the university $1 million should he leave for another college job.

Helton became interim head coach at USC midway through the 2015 season after Steve Sarkisian took a leave of absence. He was named permanent head coach for the final two games of that season. His career record is 32-16, but the Trojans are 5-6 this season and need a win Saturday over Notre Dame to become bowl eligible.