A young, personable, accomplished African-African American head coach likely has more credibility with an African-American recruit than someone such as Robbie Caldwell, either as an assistant or head coach. Additionally, Coach Franklin took a two-win VU team and turned it into a 7-win VU team in his first season. That was accomplished overwhelmingly with Bobby Johnson and Robbie Caldwell recruits. VU now has a better head coach and a better coach staff than during the time of Johnson and Caldwell.
So how has Vanderbilt become competitive in the SEC? How have the Commodores found their way into two straight bowl games? How did James Franklin lead Vandy to its first nine-win season since the Earth cooled?
“The biggest difference is their athletes. They’re not slow guys anymore. They’re fast, and they’re in excellent shape. You don’t see many overweight guys playing for Vanderbilt. Even their offensive linemen are not quite as heavy as they used to be, but their defensive players are really in tip-top shape. They’re fast and lean, and they can really run…
I don’t know all the academic requirements they have there at Vanderbilt, but if you’re going to play in the SEC you’ve got to recruit very closely to the standards everybody else has. I would think they’ve relaxed them a little bit, but I don’t know exactly…
They want to play football, and they want to be competitive, and to do that you almost have to have the requirements pretty close to the other schools. Pretty close.”
Spurrier isn’t the first person to make that suggestion. He is, however, the first coach to make that suggestion in the days leading up to his team’s game against Vandy.
South Carolina is favored in Saturday’s contest and rightly so. There’s simply more talent in Columbia than in Nashville this year. But the Commodores have proven themselves to be quite pesky when facing the Gamecocks over the past six seasons.
And now Franklin can motivate his team by telling them, “Spurrier thinks you’re dumb,” which is exactly how a coach would spin Spurrier’s comments to motivate his own team.