In a recent piece in the The Tennesseean about SEC football, David Climer says that while LSU coach Les Miles will probably take home SEC coach of the honors, Vanderbilt's first year coach James Franklin has earned consideration too.
And he's getting it from his own school, Vanderbilt University.
That's a pic of Franklin above, wearing his gold and black (Vandy colors) tie. Climer reports that a little under a year after his appointment, Franklin has negotiated a new contract and extracted a commitment from Vanderbilt to build a new indoor practice facility, something other coaches have desired but failed to get in the past. This success has come because in his first year as head coach Franklin won six games and came very close to beating Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, and Tennessee. And one other thing--the Franklin led Commodores are going to a bowl, just the fifth bowl in school history.
I might also add that Franklin was recognized this spring as one of the outstanding recruiters in college football, and his first group of Vanderbilt recruits is said to be top notch, so look out next year. With a solid returning cohort of players and some great recruits, maybe those close calls against Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee will be chalked up in the win column in 2012. Let me do the math. That would mean a 9 and 3 season. Wow!
And possibly in a couple years we could win the BCS championship. Beyond that, I can see a dynasty forming and many years of consistent wins over UT. In my crystal ball I can see LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and other SEC giants being ground to dust under the Vandy steam roller.
Okay, okay. I've got to get a grip, I need to back up and look at this objectively, fully utilize the critical skills I've developed over the years as a Cubs fan and as a follower of Vanderbilt football since the late '50s.
Franklin is a great coach and I love his intensity on the sidelines and his refusal to buy into the well established defeatist culture. But there's a reason why this kind of culture has evolved. From 1986 to 2001 the school won only 18 games in SEC play. In three of those seasons Vandy had a 1-10 record and in five of the years were winless in the SEC. Since 2000, Vandy has a 36-93 record (14-74 in the SEC). This is also the school that has devoured some pretty good coaches over the past three or four decades, coaches who thought they could turn things around. And the one or two coaches (e.g. Steve Sloan) that did make a little difference, quickly moved on to other colleges.
Let's face it. When the state university (MTSU) down the road in Murfreesboro, a school you probably put on the schedule because it could be an easy win, beats you up pretty bad, your prospects aren't that good. Yeah, I know, that happened several years ago, but still.
How about this? When the local newspaper starts each and every season, year after year, with a story about how it might be possible for Vanderbilt to win 4 or 5 games, things aren't so rosy in your football program. The football Commodores have received the SEC Miss Congeniality Award more times than any team (that's the award they give you because the other teams were glad you were on their schedule and they got to kick your butt all over the field for 60 minutes).
So...let's take this Franklin thing a little slower. As I said, I think he's a great coach and an excellent motivator. But let's not get too excited yet.
And as for that possible 9-3 record in 2012 that I fantasized about, after a reality check, I realize that's about as likely as the Cubs winning the World Series next year.
Okay. It could happen. Yeah, yeah. I know. Anything's possible. Vandy could go 9-3 and the Cubs could win the World Series for the first time since 1908.
But in my humble opinion a 9-3 record for Vandy in 2012 is about as likely as Obama reversing his delay of that Canadian Keystone XL pipeline, opening up off shore drilling, cutting taxes, eliminating several cabinet level departments, and initiating other deep federal budget cuts in order to balance the budget before he leaves office on January 20, 2013.