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Here’s A Longshot Name For Ole Miss’ Consideration: James Franklin

The odds of Ole Miss approaching, interviewing, selecting and hiring James Franklin away from Vanderbilt are slim.  Very slim.  So slim that no one is even mentioning the possibility.

But we believe Archie Manning and crew could do worse than lining up a chat with Vandy’s Mr. Turnaround.

In his first season, Franklin has taken a program coming off back-to-back 2-10 seasons and already won five games with two to play.  If his Commodores defeat Tennessee and/or Wake Forest, they’ll be bowl eligible for just the second time since 1982.  If he wins both games and then manages a bowl victory, the Commodores would have just their third eight-win season since 1955.

Perhaps more impressive than VU’s 5-5 record at the moment is just how competitive the Dores have been inside the SEC:

Beat Ole Miss 30-7 (think the Archies remember that one?)

Lost to South Carolina 21-3

Lost to Alabama 34-0

Lost to Georgia 33-28 (had a chance to win the game in the final
seconds)

Lost to Arkansas 31-28 (should have beaten the Hogs)

Lost to Florida 26-21 (showed incredible fight to bounce back from previous heartbreaker)

Beat Kentucky 38-8 (destroyed their long-time cellar-mate)

This summer — with nothing to sell but his message and hope — the first-year coach began putting together an eye-popping recruiting class.  Now with the ability to tell recruits, “think of what we can do with you on our team,” Franklin could possibly land a Top 20 signing class.  Mull that one over for a second or two.

He’s also changed the culture inside the Vanderbilt locker room.  After a particularly snippy game with Georgia, Franklin summed up this program’s attitude thusly:

“We’re also gonna fight.  I want to make sure everybody understands that.  We are not gonna sit back and take stuff from anybody.  Anybody.  No one.  Those days are long gone.  And they are never coming back.  Ever.”

To Vandy fans, that’s equivalent of Mel Gibson’s “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom” speech from “Braveheart.”

Frankin would also help the oft-mentioned race issue facing Ole Miss’ recruiters.  While some Rebel fans refuse to acknowledge the obvious obstacle that the school’s Civil War-related nickname and imagery creates for coaches, Manning and the UM administration are certainly aware of it.  Having a black head coach might help to silence the initial “Mississippi Burning” fears of some recruits and their parents.

Would it be wise for Ole Miss to make a run at someone with such a short track record?  Well, if the Rebels are going to wind up with an assistant coach from elsewhere as their new head coach, Franklin would actually bring more experience to the table.

Neither options would be a safe bet, but Franklin’s certainly shown that he has the moxie to lead and the know-how to recruit.

Franklin has also made numerous comments in his first season at Vanderbilt suggesting that he’d like to see better fan support for his players.  He’s gone out of his way to praise other schools’ fans for “arriving early” and “staying late,” something VU fans haven’t often done this season.  So there might be at least some reason to believe he’d bail on Vandy after a year.

More money, less stringent academics, better fan support (if he could lure Rebel fans out of The Grove and into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium) might all cause Vandy’s coach to consider a cross-conference move.  It’s certainly been done a time or two in the past couple of decades (Houston Nutt, Tommy Tuberville, Gerry DiNardo, and while Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban detoured to the NFL, they too have coached a pair of SEC programs).

In the end, I don’t believe Ole Miss will give Franklin serious consideration.  I also don’t think he would make the move from Nashville to Oxford just one year into his current tenure.  He might not see Ole Miss as a step-up, to be perfectly blunt.

But that doesn’t mean UM’s search committee shouldn’t consider him.  He’s proven more as a head coach than frequently mentioned candidates Kirby Smart, Gus Malzahn and Manny Diaz.

 


17 comments
utvols420
utvols420

I hope you are going to give me credit for this. I said it first!!

Rob
Rob

I'm trying to figure out how Vanderbilt "should have beaten the Hogs"? They missed a FG that would have sent the game to OT. I don't recall anyone saying that Arkansas "should have beaten the LSU Tigers", after we missed a FG in OT in 2009.

Guest
Guest

Franklin isn't just a rah rah guy; he can obviously recruit too. (see, e.g., the recent commitment from Jelks, his current top 25 recruiting class, et al.) While what he has done in just 10 months on the job is very impressive, whether he can actually pull out some SEC wins over teams other than bottom feeders like Ole Miss and Kentucky remains to be seen.

John
John

Great post, although you forgot to mention that Vandy has no fans...

Tyler B
Tyler B

Ummm... Anyone who can come into Nashville and move the needle even an inch from Day 1 would be a huge get for Ole Miss. Franklin's not a true "rah rah" guy, just a coach who will stand up for his program regardless of the situation and there's a big difference. Nutt was a great hire, but as he did at Arky it looks like he lost his fire. Cutcliffe was a terrible hire, and hiring Randy Sanders at UK instead of Joker Phillips would have been the same thing. It shouldn't be the Fulmer coaching tree, it should be the Peyton Manning coaching tree.

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

Don't get me wrong ... I believe that Franklin is an excellent coaching prospect. He saved Ralph Friedgen's job at Maryland (for awhile anyway) and was their HCIW for a reason. He is a good recruiter and very good with QBs and offensive schemes. When I say "come in with rah rah" ... Franklin HAS had Vandy playing with emotion. They feed off his positive attitude, and how he has been pushing them, especially on defense. That happens a lot ... new guy comes in with a fresh outlook, clean slate, new schemes and approach etc. That is why I mentioned Rick Neuheisel. But when the newness wears off, that is the real test.

As far as the Fulmer coaching tree goes ... Ole Miss could do a lot worse than hiring John Chavis!

SEC_Fan
SEC_Fan

Ole Miss should go after Nick Saban while they're at it.

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

Hiring Franklin would make no sense. Remember when LSU hired Gerry DiNardo after he went 19-25 (including 3 5-6 seasons) at Vanderbilt? It was a fiasco. This isn't the 1960s - or even the 1980s - when teams could sign 100 (or more) players and there were no real academic requirements, and power football ruled the day. With 85 scholarships, Prop 48 and the passing game/spread offense the only reason why Vanderbilt hasn't been as good as Stanford, Wake Forest, Boston College and Northwestern (some of whom recruit very well in Georgia by the way) is because they haven't done anywhere near as good a job in hiring coaches. So, Franklin going 5-5 (so far) against probably the weakest SEC East ever shouldn't make him this hot candidate. Bobby Johnson got good talent to Vanderbilt. He just wouldn't run an offense to fit his talent on that side of the ball, and got burned out. So, Franklin just recruited the little brother of Aaron Rodgers, added it to an underrated talent pool, and there you go. Another thing: Johnson would have won more games had Rajaan Bennett not gotten murdered.

Look, Stanford, Wake Forest and Northwestern coaches got their teams to BCS bowl games (or the equivalent). Not saying that Franklin has to do the same, as the SEC is tougher than the Pac-12, ACC and Big 10. But at least let the guy win 9 games at Vanderbilt before suggesting that he is ready to be expected to compete with Saban, Miles, Petrino, Chizik and Mullen in the SEC West. Look, Houston Nutt was no chopped liver. The guy won SEC West titles at Arkansas. Arkansas fans (who won't acknowledge that he was basically run out over the bust Mitch Mustain) won't admit it, but the guy modernized what Danny Ford left behind - Ford was basically still running a 1970s SWC program - and made the Hogs consistently competitive in the SEC. And he won at Ole Miss too. A guy has to be better than Houston Nutt and David Cutcliffe to succeed at Ole Miss, and there isn't anywhere near enough evidence to suggest that Franklin is that guy. It is real easy to walk into a program and provide some emotion, a "rah rah" spark in the first year or two leaning on upperclassmen from the previous regime. Rick Neuheisel is an expert at that, so is Dennis Erickson. But after the "rah rah" wears off and your own players are on the field in years 3 and 4 ... that is totally different.

Rob
Rob

The ordeals with Mitch Mustain were only part of the reason Nutt was run off and it had nothing to do with him being a bust. In fact, Mustain was 8-0 as a starter at Arkansas, so he wasn't exactly a bush for us. Plenty of Arkansas fans will admit that the ordeals with Mustain were part of it, so I don't know why you say we won't admit it, but I have to think that you believe you know more then you do about it.

As for Nutt, if you want to say that he's "no chopped liver", I won't argue with that, but he's not a very good coach, either. For the record, I am an Arkansas fan, but I'm not a "Nutt hater". I'm just being honest. Franklin has been very impressive in his first year, imo, and I think he'd be a home run hire for Ole Miss, but maybe you know him better then I do? Regardless, I can't tell you how ironic it is that you would criticize him for being a "rah rah" guy, when that's all that Houston Nutt has going for him.

Observer
Observer

Bobby Johnson recruited Jordan Rodgers to Vanderbilt, not James Franklin.

Tyler B
Tyler B

Can't see Smart going anywhere when either UGA or UA is the next step... Poor Kentucky.

MIZ_SEC
MIZ_SEC

If Franklin is looking to move, I think he would definitely be a top candidate for a place like Arizona, UCLA (if they fire Skippy), or even Ohio State.

DAVID
DAVID

not a chance franklin will stay at vandy for a while!

TigerEyez13
TigerEyez13

Agree with Kent. Right now the atmosphere is more upbeat at Vandy. Ole Miss has a dark cloud hovering.

joe
joe

Maybe he could wait one more year and then Tennessee will be ready and available!

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