By Harry Allison

Sometimes rumors are just wild-ass fever dreams.

And sometimes they are premature facts.

Take the case of Penn State coach James Franklin, who is on the hot seat for underperforming this season the Nits into an 8-3 record with winnable games against Ohio State and Michigan State turning into losses..

inadvertently fed the buzz that he was headed to USC.

Yesterday, he clarified:

He has “all the plans in the world to be here (in Happy Valley) and to be here for a long time.”

On Tuesday he addressed rumor the Trojans’ interest in him as a head-coaching candidate. But he deflected them.

Franklin hoped to put those rumors to rest Wednesday night:

“In an attempt yesterday — a failed attempt — to try to keep the focus on Maryland, I got asked a question yesterday about another school and tried to keep the focus on Maryland like I always do and the next opponent, and that didn’t go over very well. I didn’t feel like it was appropriate to talk about another school or another person’s job status, so that’s why I addressed it the way I did. But, obviously, I have all the plans in the world to be here and to be here for a long time, so I just wanted to address that because it became something that I did not want it to be or intend. So I wanted to put that statement out there.”

It all started Tuesday when Franklin responded to a question about USC with a slight shrug. “It’s the crazy, mad time of year where these types of things happen,” he said, before emphasizing he wanted to keep the focus on Maryland. Less than an hour later, he appeared on the Big Ten coac

At this point, Clay Helton remains the coach at USC — although most national media believe he’ll be canned if his team loses to a heavily favored Notre Dame this weekend. USC sits at 5-6 and is on the verge of its first losing season in 18 years.

Franklin is 44-20 in his fifth year with Penn State, although he’s just 3-12 combined against Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. Franklin’s contract is relatively easy for him to get out of, but not exactly vice versa. He has a $1 million buyout but, if he’s fired without cause, he’ll be owed more than $20 million.

Franklin and the Nittany Lions will look to improve on their 8-3 record at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Maryland at Beaver Stadium.

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