John Adams: James Franklin does talking for Vanderbilt

A few weeks after James Franklin was named Vanderbilt's football coach, I was in Nashville for Tennessee's bowl venture. I was curious to see if the hiring had captivated the populace.

Not quite.

In fact, my very random, amateurish poll determined that Franklin's hiring might as well have been a top-secret matter of the CIA. People in witness protection are better known. The Commodores might as well have hired John Doe.

I asked people in restaurants, convenience stores and parking lots. I asked people at the Opryland Hotel, and at the Marriott only a deep pass route away from Vanderbilt Stadium. The closest anyone came to naming the new coach was to say, "I think he came from Maryland."

He did. Franklin was an assistant coach at Maryland before Vanderbilt hired him away — in the dark of night, based on my poll.

Two years later, James Franklin still might not be a household name in Nashville, where the Titans and Vols are more popular than the Commodores. But he's no stranger to college football.

The question now isn't "Why did Vanderbilt hire Franklin as its head coach?" It's "How will it

be able to keep him as its head coach?"

Franklin didn't take long to make an impression. He took Vanderbilt to a bowl game in his first season. As noteworthy as that might be for Vanderbilt, one season isn't much of a track record.

The track record is now almost two seasons long. And it keeps looking better.

So do the players, most of whom Franklin can take credit for developing if not recruiting.

In its best seasons, Vanderbilt has a history of being halfway competent, occasionally fielding an adequate defense or a somewhat proficient offense. But there rarely has been any semblance of balance.

That's why this team's statistics are so striking entering Saturday's game against Tennessee. For starters, Vanderbilt doesn't rank last in the SEC in a singular statistical category. How many times have you been able to say that?

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews is second in the SEC in pass receiving.

Richard Kent is third in punting.

Casey Spear is second in field-goal kicking.

Linebacker Chase Garnham is sixth in sacks.

Cornerback Andre Hal is second in passes defended.

Zac Stacy is seventh in rushing.

The Commodores rank 16th nationally in scoring defense. And while their offense isn't as formidable, they are averaging more yards per game than Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Missouri.

Other numbers are up as well.

The Commodores have a long history of clumsily handling victories seemingly within their grasp. Even while playing themselves into a bowl last season, they didn't change their tendencies. In games decided by seven or fewer points, Vanderbilt was 1-5.

But Franklin's second team isn't sabotaging itself. In four games decided by seven points or fewer, the Commodores have won three.

Also, don't dismiss the Commodores' 40-0 victory over Kentucky as business as usual. As wretched as the Wildcats have been, they have lost only five other games by bigger margins in the last 16 years.

The Commodores often were on the wrong side of that kind of game not so long ago. They were 2-10 in 2010, the year before they hired Franklin, who has since won 12 games in two seasons.

And made a name for himself in the process.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 18

DarthVol writes:

Who?

nocleats writes:

If Tennessee beats Vanderbilt on Saturday, does this mean that Franklin should be fired?

fredricks writes:

Franklin would be an excellent candidate to replace Dolley if we can't get a big name coach.

tvol71 writes:

in response to fredricks:

Franklin would be an excellent candidate to replace Dolley if we can't get a big name coach.

Franklin's attitude reminds me of Kiffin, very arrogant and not very concerned about the rules. We don't need another Kiffin.

cloudodust writes:

1) Vandy is bowl eligible (4-3 SEC), Tennessee ain't (0-6 SEC). 2) Vandy beat Missouri at Missouri, Tennessee lost to Missouri in Knoxville. 3) It's not suppose to be this way...but that's the way it is.

killervol69 writes:

C'mon , who really gives a rats arse anywho? We have posted oir lousiest record in years, time to move on.Thank goodness basketball has started, GBO men's basketball!!

volpreacher writes:

in response to cloudodust:

1) Vandy is bowl eligible (4-3 SEC), Tennessee ain't (0-6 SEC). 2) Vandy beat Missouri at Missouri, Tennessee lost to Missouri in Knoxville. 3) It's not suppose to be this way...but that's the way it is.

Yes they have better record and are bowl eligible. Now yes UT lost in 4 OT by 3and against a healthy Missouri. Vandy was behind to Missouri until their qb franklin went down with injury around half time. Vandy then ended up scoring late to win by 5 against their back up qb.

volfaninbuckeyeland writes:

in response to tvol71:

Franklin's attitude reminds me of Kiffin, very arrogant and not very concerned about the rules. We don't need another Kiffin.

tvol, you may be 100% correct in your assessment of Franklin, but while I totally agree with you about Kiffin's attitude, I have a different take on Franklin. Even though he did exhibit bouts of immaturity and unsportsmanlike conduct last year, I see him as more of a blue collar type coach on the order of a Bill Cowher. He is passionate, intense, and motivated and he apparently is succeeding at instilling a sense of confidence in his players that I frankly don't think UT can equal at this point. I believe the man is maturing and, after watching some of last week's game against Ol' Miss, I definitely believe that Vandy is getting more bang for the buck in their investment in Franklin that UT is getting out of their investment in CDD. I believe Vandy is more motivated and better coached and at the end of the day, they get the W. I surely hope I'm wrong, because I do not share CDD's philosophy about UT's staying home instead of going to a bowl. Even if it is a lower tier bowl, a holiday season without Tenn in a bowl is kind of like Christmas without a family gathering--something is seriously missing! GBO

SummittsCourt writes:

blah, blah, blah,

same ole, same ole

UT 44
dumps 18

born2ride writes:

Franklin was a great hire.

Dooley was a horrible hire.

Vandy is still Vandy

Vols win again on Saturday.

cloudodust writes:

in response to volpreacher:

Yes they have better record and are bowl eligible. Now yes UT lost in 4 OT by 3and against a healthy Missouri. Vandy was behind to Missouri until their qb franklin went down with injury around half time. Vandy then ended up scoring late to win by 5 against their back up qb.

Tennessee was also relatively healthy against Missouri too. We know our D has growing pains and specific weaknesses. To think Franklin/Rodgers won't attempt to exploit them is like mining for Fool's Gold. Tennessee badly needs to play a very good all round game this weekend, not for us fans but for Team...and that QB reference makes me think of those that try to gloss over the fact that Tennessee beat a weakened FSU team in the 1998 NCG due to the same scenerio, albeit, Outzen basically QB'd FSU to 2 and 1/2 wins coming into the NCG and Tennessee was down it's starting RB but depth overcame and Tennessee brought home the Crystal Football. It's the little things that make a difference and we're lacking the little things this year...As always, GBO

cltvol writes:

in response to fredricks:

Franklin would be an excellent candidate to replace Dolley if we can't get a big name coach.

i wouldn't be able to take it if he came here,,until he beats FL, Bama, Then I'm throwen' rose petals @ his feet.

Smokey_VA writes:

in response to cloudodust:

1) Vandy is bowl eligible (4-3 SEC), Tennessee ain't (0-6 SEC). 2) Vandy beat Missouri at Missouri, Tennessee lost to Missouri in Knoxville. 3) It's not suppose to be this way...but that's the way it is.

I would take the Vandy Schedule any day of the week vs what Tenn has. Trade Bama for Auburn and Florida for Ol Miss.

Vandy did beat Missouri, but with out James Franklin.

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

in response to cloudodust:

Tennessee was also relatively healthy against Missouri too. We know our D has growing pains and specific weaknesses. To think Franklin/Rodgers won't attempt to exploit them is like mining for Fool's Gold. Tennessee badly needs to play a very good all round game this weekend, not for us fans but for Team...and that QB reference makes me think of those that try to gloss over the fact that Tennessee beat a weakened FSU team in the 1998 NCG due to the same scenerio, albeit, Outzen basically QB'd FSU to 2 and 1/2 wins coming into the NCG and Tennessee was down it's starting RB but depth overcame and Tennessee brought home the Crystal Football. It's the little things that make a difference and we're lacking the little things this year...As always, GBO

"...our D has growing pains...".

I thought it was rigor mortis, whew that's a relief, my bad.

philgreen5#410561 writes:

My son is a second year student and he bleeds orange. I hate that he is attending during the worse years of football in the modern history of the program. I don't like anyone losing thier job, but it is obvious CDD has been a failure, it is time to cut out losses and move on. We have enough talent on defense to get this turned around quickly. I have to beleive this is a done deal and this staff (most of them anyway) coming back is not even an option. They may have to have a buy one get one free sale on the KY game tickets!

laraccoon writes:

all of you predicting Vols to win are going out on a limb. Personally i will be surprised if Dooley dont give this one away like usual, if its even close. I will be more surprised if UT wins ,the Missouri debacle had to take some steam out of this team .

123forVOLS writes:

All you who want James Franklin as head coach either Vandyize or start your own University of Tennessee II if you like. He will not be on Rocky Top. As for this game, the two teams are similar in many ways. The Vol offense has to carry the day or Vandy wins. There is no doubt Tennessee can win, it's all a matter of whether or not they do it. Someone on a radio show stated that UT needs to guard against an early surge and not get way behind. I believe that. But I would not be surprised to see the Vols come out and play a complete game. Vandy does not want that or Franklin will look like most all other coaches there for the past many years. It should be a good game.

airship writes:

Hire Franklin. love his energy and his teams are well coached. love or hate him give him credit.He will land a big time coaching job some where soon.

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