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Gus Malzahn Reportedly Turns Down Vanderbilt, Making James Franklin The Favorite Again

On second thought, Gus Malzahn will not be going to coach Vanderbilt. At least that's the report from ESPN's Chris Low, who writes that the Auburn offensive coordinator has turned down Vanderbilt's lucrative offer.

Vanderbilt made an aggressive push for Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, but Malzahn has decided to stay at Auburn, a source told

Malzahn, in his second season at Auburn, had emerged as Vanderbilt's top target and was offered a lucrative financial package. After mulling it over for the last two days, Malzahn decided it was best he stay put.

Eric Prisbell of the Washington Post had previously reported that Malzahn had accepted the job on Sunday. 

As's Holly Anderson writes, there are a lot of reasons Malzahn would turn Vanderbilt down, many of which have nothing to do with him preferring to stay at Auburn. However, for our purposes, the significance of this news is that Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin is likely the favorite to take the position again. Franklin had emerged as Vanderbilt's backup plan, a fact that Low confirmed in his report. 

If Franklin does take the job, it would be a loss for a Maryland program that had a solid season this year. However, it would also provide potential clarity to Ralph Friedgen's future. Franklin is due a $1 million roster bonus if he is not named the head coach by 2012, but Friedgen also desires a long-term extension.