If Vanderbilt had a decent sports marketing agenda, that quote you used should be the basis of this year's football season ticket campaign. It made most of the Vanderbilt fans I know more enthused than ever about the coach and the upward trend of the program. It is absolutely the right attitude Franklin needs to convey to all those audiences that need to be affected, whether it's alumni, fans, potential fans, recruits and the media. I wouldn't expect fans from any other SEC school to like it.
As for the tampering allegation, the saber rattling got it's publicity.
Edsall is desperate to turn around a very ugly public relations nightmare that started when he took the job.
The Maryland fan base is fractured. Edsall replaced Ralph Fridgeon (Maryland graduate) who revived a lifeless football program and who went 9-4 his last year. He was fired by a new AD who was influenced by a very wealthy supporter (Under Armor founder) who wanted the infamous Mike Leach as the coach. When the admin got cold feet, Edsall was hired. Edsall proceeded to g o 2-10 in his first year. A year in which he benched sophomore quarterback and former ACC Freshman of the year Danny O'Brien. In the 16 or so months since Edsall has been on the job, approximately 25 players with eligibility have transferred out of his program. Fans and the media took notice.
Unfortunately for Edsall, James Franklin, the former OC for Fridgeon and tabbed by the previous admin as the cursed "Coach in Waiting" took the Vanderbilt job when the new AD decided to hire his "own man".While Edsall stumbled, Franklin gained national attention for breathing life into Vanderbilt. Wins on the field were augmented by wins in recruiting. The Washington area media took notice. BUt Edsall fought back. He hired Mike Locksley to his staff to recruit. He signed high profile recruits in a very short period of time. His luck was changing.
And then O'Brien decided to transfer. He's a high profile player and respected within the Maryland community. A redshirt sophomore, he will graduate in 3 years. He is likely to be successful at his next stop. Even though Edsall benched O'Brien last year, this was the last person Edsall needed to lose. It was well known that O'Brien continued to have a relationship with Franklin, the coach that recruited him to Maryland and served as his position coach. O'Brien even helped Franklin clean out his office when he left Maryland (I don't think the same can be said of Edsall when he left UCONN). One of Franklin's greatest strengths are his people skills. A young, African American coach, Franklin builds bonds with many of his players. Edsall, an old school task master, isn't blessed with enormous people skills. Combine a prickly personality with a losing record and a mass exodus of players and you've got a full fledged public relations catastrophe.
Did Franklin actively pursue O'Brien? Or did he merely continue to act as a confidant and mentor? Did his coach at Maryland look foolish trying to bully his last three transfers including the former quarterback? Did the national media point a finger at Edsall and say let them go? Was there a chance O'Brien would want to follow his mentor to Vanderbilt and find success there? A frustrated Edsall is seeing his so called "dream job" crumble at his feet before it can take root. He's gonna fight for his job by any means possible. He's gonna blame James Franklin for losing the biggest name of his current roster. He has found a scapegoat.
O'Brien will probably not go to Vanderbilt. But like many former players, O'Brien will continue to have a good relationship with Franklin. I don't think the same can be said of Randy Edsall.
The tampering allegations will be unproven and will dissipate rather quickly.