RALEIGH — N.C. States football team will end up on the same field as James Franklin after all.
The Wolfpack will face Franklins Vanderbilt team Dec. 31 (noon, ESPN) in the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn.
N.C. State athletics director Debbie Yow has described Franklin as a good friend and previously hired him at Maryland. Early speculation after Tom OBrien was fired focused on Franklin, but Yow hired Dave Doeren from Northern Illinois.
Our fans will love Nashville and so will our players, Yow wrote in a text on Sunday night.
She declined to comment on facing Franklin. Vanderbilt (8-4) won its final six games and finished 5-3 in the SEC.
It will be the second straight bowl game for the Vanderbilt, after it went from 1983 to 2007 without a postseason appearance. Franklin is the schools first coach with consecutive bowl appearances and received a contract extension Sunday.
N.C. State (7-5) will play in its third straight bowl and fourth in five years. It will be the Packs first visit to Nashville, Tenn., after going to Charlotte last year and Orlando, Fla., in 2010.
Northern Illinois, Doerens former team, will face ACC champion Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Doeren wont coach in either bowl.
Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will coach N.C. State in the bowl in OBriens place. N.C. State has won its past two bowls, both over Big East opponents.
Vanderbilt lost to Cincinnati last year in the Liberty Bowl. Franklin has a 14-11 record in two years at Vanderbilt. He worked as an assistant at Maryland for seven seasons during two different stints.
Yow hired Franklin in 2008 and made him the coach-in-waiting for Ralph Friedgen a year later. When Yow went to N.C. State in 2010, the plan fizzled. Friedgen was fired after the 2010 season and Franklin ended up at Vanderbilt.
At the press conference to announce OBriens dismissal, Yow talked about her admiration of Franklin and said he was building something special at Vanderbilt.
N.C. State opened the season with a loss to an SEC team from the state of Tennessee. It hasnt played a bowl game against an SEC team since beating Mississippi State in the Peach Bowl in 1994.