HOOVER, Ala. — James Franklin needed only 30 minutes at the SEC media podium to prove sweeping changes are under way at Vanderbilt.
Not once did he mention turkey insemination, as his coaching predecessor, Robbie Caldwell, did last July to the delight of everyone in attendance at SEC Media Days.
Nor did anyone mistake him for Steve Martin.
Former Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson once told reporters at SEC media days a story about being mistaken for the actor by a group of Japanese tourists while he was vacationing in California.
Franklin provided no punch lines Friday — unless you think it's uproariously funny that he would say, "We have an opportunity to do something really special at Vanderbilt."
You might counter that Franklin has a greater chance of being mistaken for Steve Martin than he has of doing something special at Vanderbilt. And he looks less like Martin than Caldwell does a turkey.
In fact, the former University of Maryland assistant coach looks and sounds like someone Vanderbilt should have hired. He appears almost studious while talking as good of a game as you will hear from someone heading up a program that is more apt to end a career than make you coach of the year.
Franklin makes such a compelling case on behalf of his new program, you have to remind yourself that he's at Vanderbilt — and not Stanford, for example — or you might start looking for a spot on the smallest bandwagon in college football.
"We have an opportunity to really distinguish ourselves," he said. "I really believe there's very few schools that are going to be able to compete with us when it comes to recruiting because we have an opportunity to offer things that very few schools can."
He's not referring to the opportunity to play immediately. Instead, he cites a "world-class education," a great city in Nashville and membership in the nation's premier football conference.
He's not breaking new ground there. Every risk taker who ever signed on with the Commodores probably cited the same advantages, all of which are as real now as in any other year when the Commodores were coming off a 10-loss season.
Those advantages routinely have been offset by higher academic standards than its conference competition; a small, antiquated stadium that's better suited for Conference USA than the SEC; and an apathetic fan base that's more out of place in this league than the Vanderbilt players.
Against that backdrop, it's no wonder Franklin has created headlines by securing 12 commitments toward his next recruiting class. The obvious question: Will those commitments hold up through what promises to be another last-place season in the SEC East?
The atmosphere is more discouraging than the record for Vanderbilt football. Opposing team's fans often take over the stadium on game day. That lack of fan support is magnified by the passionate turnouts at every other SEC venue.
"I think the most important thing we can do is put a product on the field that our fan base can be excited about," Franklin said. "That's the most important thing. We're going to do some things facility-wise to create a better home-field advantage as well, give a better game-day experience.
"Everybody has to understand we can't do this alone. We need this fan base to unite like it never has before."
His call for unity is appropriate. But, as he will find out like every Vanderbilt coach before him, it's lost on a fan base that doesn't care.