Things have gone exactly Coach Franklin's way recently. But I am of the opinion that he is his own biggest fan. His own comments over the past couple years have shown this. He seems like a decent coach and pretty good recruiter. But his hubris will be his downfall. This is the year when he goes 5-7 and gets knocked back to reality.
Last month, Georgia signee Davin Bellamy tweeted that during one of his last in-home visits from a coaching staff, “a school spent an hour and (a) half telling me why I shouldn’t go to Georgia.”
Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with a number of SEC coaches, including UGA’s Mark Richt to get their take on negative recruiting. A sampling:
“…If you hear me talking about another school, if I’m you, I’m not going to listen much to what I have to say. but when I tell you about Georgia and the reality of what’s going on at Georgia, then I want you to believe what I’m telling you. We try to make sure that we’re going about it (in) a very positive way, and talkinga bout great things at Georgia.”
– Mark Richt, Georgia
“There were a lot of false accusations they (rival coaches) were using against the University of Tennessee in the recruiting process. All I can speak of is what we’re going to do here at the University of Tennessee, and we’re going to do nothing but sell our football program and present the fact to prospective student-athletes.”
– Butch Jones, Tennessee
“It’s all over the place. We hear it consistently from a lot of different angles. I think when you have a really good product to sell, you can focuse on your product.”
– James Franklin, Vanderbilt
“We spend more time in our program talking about what’s good. I want a young man that wants to be part of our program when they look at what we stand for… I want them to call me and say, ‘Coach, I want to be part of our program.’ Not because we’ve made another program look bad, or other people make a program look bad. I want them really excited about us.”
– Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
So in case you’re keeping score at home, once again everyone is recruited negatively against while no one actually takes part in negative recruiting. Doesn’t that defy logic? Someone’s got to be doing the smearing, don’t they?
We’ll perhaps it depends on what coaches consider negative recruiting. For example, Franklin sounds like he’s A-OK with giving recruits “facts” that show one school is a better landing spot than another rival schools:
“I don’t necessarily think it’s negative recruiting when people do some research and find some facts. I don’t have any problem with that. There’s no oasis out there. There’s no perfect place. Every place has strengths and weaknesses. I have no problem with people doing research and showing it. But when it’s just negative recruiting without any facts to back it up, that’s the stuff that’s a little frustrating when you’re dealing with 17-year-old and 18-year-old kids that can be easily influenced.”
Franklin, of course, is suggesting he has no problem with other coaches providing “facts” about Vanderbilt. But most rational readers will clearly see that he’s just as open to sharing some “facts” of his own about other schools.
Now, would sharing graduation rates — for example — be negative recruiting or simply a distribution of actual facts? You’d probably get two different answers from the coach sharing those facts and the coach who’s school’s graduation rates fail the comparison test.
Either way, Franklin’s quickie quote about fact-sharing is as close as any coach will ever come to saying, “Yes, we’ve provided bad info on other schools.” Instead, expect to continue to hear coaches say that negative recruiting is going on everywhere… though they themselves would never engage in such tactics.