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Vandy Working On Extension For Franklin

James Franklin — perhaps the least-heralded hire of all the coaching moves in America last offseason — has Vanderbilt going bowling in his first year.  His fiery demeanor has also brought attention to VU (and himself) from across the SEC.  The Commodores might not be world-beaters at 6-6, but they sure aren’t a laughing stock any longer.

As a reward for Franklin’s success, Vanderbilt is working on an extension for its new coach.  Some Nashville outlets quote vice chancellor of athletics David Williams as saying a deal is already in place.  Other Nashville sites quote Williams as saying “We’re trying to work on something.”

While the school is planning to make a bigger commitment to its coach in terms of salary and security, Vandy is not yet ready to fork over cash for an indoor practice facility that Franklin has campaigned for.

“We hope to have something and keep working and see what we can do,” Williams said.  “Right now we’re not in a position to move anything on that.  But we’re going to be working real hard to do all of the things we can do and need to do.”

Franklin has also made it pretty clear throughout the season that attendance at Vanderbilt Stadium has disappointed him.  Williams told The Tennessean yesterday that VU fans will need to help the school hang on to its successful, young coach.

“We’re fighting now in a situation of bowl picking… trying to get different bowl people to understand the value of having Vanderbilt in their bowl.  And one of the questions is, ‘Well, will a lot of people come?’

Those are all sort of things that need to be part of this equation.  I can do a lot and Vanderbilt can do a lot, but I can’t come over to your house and pick you up and make you sit in the stands or make you go to one of the bowl sites.

I think Coach has proved himself.  He’s a good football coach.  He’s a good person.  He’s a good part of this community.  Vanderbilt is prepared to step up and support that.

I just think we all have to stand up and support it and basically show the rest of the world, and more importantly show all of our coaches, we’re going to support you and fill up the place and travel with you.”

While Franklin deserves much of the credit for the Commodores’ success this year, the work of Bobby Johnson should not be forgotten.  Johnson made VU competitive during his reign and actually took the Dores to their first bowl since 1982 in 2008.  (The current VU senior class is the first in school history to reach two bowl games during a career.)

Johnson’s team slipped to 2-10 in his final season and Robbie Caldwell matched that record last year.  But Johnson had been stockpiling players for the future.  Franklin inherited a team with 28 redshirt juniors and seniors.  Think about that.  That’s a lot of guys that Johnson put on the shelf to age while he battled with a thinner roster.  Toss in nine more true juniors and true seniors and it’s clear Franklin has been working with a roster of men, not boys.  Johnson deserves some credit for that.

Vanderbilt will spend New Year’s Eve either in Nashville at the Music City Bowl or in Memphis at the Liberty Bowl.  We suspect the Music City will select MSU in hopes of bringing more fans to town.  That would leave the Liberty to deal with what would likely be a small Vandy turnout in Memphis.  On the flipside, VU players would at least get to go to a bowl outside of town.  In ’08, Vandy played in the Music City Bowl.


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