N.C. State's football team will end up on the same field as James Franklin after all.
The Wolfpack will face Franklin's Vanderbilt team in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 (noon, ESPN) in Nashville, Tenn.
N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow has described Franklin as a "good friend" and previously hired him at Maryland. Early speculation after Tom O'Brien was fired focused on Franklin but Yow eliminated him from the process a week ago and hired Dave Doeren from Northern Illinois on Saturday night.
"Our fans will love Nashville and so will our players," Yow wrote in a text on Sunday night after the matchup was announced.
She declined to comment on facing Franklin, who led the Commodores to an 8-4 record this season. Vanderbilt won its final six games and finished 5-3 in the Southeastern Conference.
It's the second straight bowl game for the Vanderbilt, after it went from 1983 to 2007 without a postseason appearance. Franklin's the first coach in school history to lead the Commodores to consecutive bowl appearances and received a contract extension on Sunday.
N.C. State, which finished the regular season at 7-5, will play in its third straight bowl game and fourth in five years. It is the Pack's first visit to Nashville, after going to Charlotte last year and Orlando in 2010.
Northern Illinois, Doeren's former team, will face ACC champion Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Doeren won't coach in either bowl game.
Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will coach N.C. State in the bowl game in O'Brien's place. N.C. State has won its past two bowl games, 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 O'Brien's 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 hasn't played a bowl game against an SEC team since beating Mississippi State in the Peach Bowl in 1994.