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Rumors Continue To Tie Vandy’s Franklin To Southern Cal Gig

james-franklin-trojan-helmetSouthern California AD Pat Haden is reportedly nearing the end of his search for a new football coach.  Interim coach (and former Ole Miss coach) Ed Orgeron is no longer in the running for the Trojans’ full-time gig.  Boise State’s Chris Petersen has pulled his name out of the hat, as usual.

That leaves three candidates that we know of: Washington’s Steve Sarkisian (already interviewed), Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio (already interviewed), and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

Sarkisian is a former Trojan assistant.  Del Rio is a former USC player.  Franklin is the wild card.

From the coach’s perspective, it would be almost impossible to turn down one of the five best coaching jobs in the country to remain at Vanderbilt.  Yes, the school — like Southern Cal — is private and can toss plenty of cash around.  But Franklin has already worked miracles in Nashville.  He’s led the school to three straight bowl games for the first time ever and he’s won eight games in back-to-back years (with a chance to win nine in back-to-back seasons).  That’s not been done at Vandy since the 1920s.

Plus, Franklin has repeatedly called on fans to turn out for Commodore football games.  They haven’t.  There were thousands of empty seats for both the Kentucky and Wake Forest games as VU made its stretch drive.  Vanderbilt Stadium seats just 40,000, so unfilled seats are sure to chap a coach with Franklin’s aspirations.

Franklin also might be thinking it’s time to jump while the getting’s good.  Vanderbilt has beaten just two FBS squads with winning records over the last two years.  At some point, even at Vandy, fans will want more.  Ask Dan Mullen about feasting on cupcakes for too long.

Vandy AD David Williams needs to pull out all the stops to keep Franklin and you can be sure that he will.  But if USC offers, it’s hard to imagine Franklin not accepting.

However, oother issue at play is the rape trial involving four ex-VU footballers.  Defense attorneys have requested copies of the text messages sent back-and-forth between the players involved and Vandy’s coaches during the attempted cover-up.  Haden will have to discuss that matter with Franklin on the uber-slim chance that Vandy’s head coach in any way aided his players in trying to hide the deed.  That’s extremely doubtful, mind you, but after the Penn State scandal, it wouldn’t be prudent for an AD to hire a coach without asking about such an ugly episode.

USC is expected to name a coach in the next three weeks.

Stay tuned…


(UPDATESarkisian has now said he did not interview with Southern Cal.)

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SEC Headlines 6/11/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. College football expert Phil Steele picks Alabama to win its third straight BCS championship.

2. Cost of tickets/donations was the biggest reason given for fans attending less college football games.

3. First-year Auburn coach Gus Malzahn knows plenty about the Iron Bowl rivalry with Alabama.

4. Tree-poisoner Harvey Updyke has another case in Louisiana to deal with now that he’s out of jail.

5. LSU has the top stadium in the conference, according to Athlon. See the entire SEC list.

6. Which non-conference game among SEC teams will be the biggest this upcoming season?

7. The Texas A&M-UTSA game probably won’t make this list when they play each other in 2016.

8. Former Georgia Bulldog Joe Tereshinski Sr., whose son and grandson played at UGA, has passed away at 89.

9. Georgia has no plans to lessen its tough punishment for positive drug tests.

10. Running back Jabo Lee should be Tennessee’s only casualty from the class of 2013.

11. Tough to argue: Alabama voted to have the best offensive triple threat in the SEC.

SEC Basketball

12. Missouri has released its non-conference schedule for the 2013-14 season.


13. Former Ole Miss head coach and Tennessee assistant Ed Orgeron keeps it classy on players attending class.

14. Athlon Sports has picked Oregon to edge out Stanford for the Pac-12 championship.

15: Report: Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow will sign with the New England Patriots today.

16. Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops responds to his critics, which includes some former Sooner players.

17. Georgia Tech’s AD believes the college football selection committee should stay on the smaller side.

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UM Fanbase Split On Freeze, But He Wows Those In His Corner During His Opening Presser

Talk to a hundred Ole Miss fans today and fifty will tell you new head coach Hugh Freeze is the perfect man for the job in Oxford. 

The other fifty will say the Rebels should have aimed higher. 

At a time when the Ole Miss fanbase desperately needed some healing, the school’s new hire has only added to the feeling of consternation.  That’s not Freeze’s fault, of course.  If you could move up the ranks from high school coaching to SEC assistant coaching to NAIA head coaching to low-level FBS head coaching to SEC head coaching in an eight-year span, you’d do it, too.

And Freeze has done well at every step.  You don’t rise like that without winning over a lot of people — a lot of skeptics — along the way.

But are there enough accomplishments on the coach’s short resume to make you believe Freeze is the man to lead Mississippi to its first SEC title since 1963?  That he’s got a better shot of reaching Atlanta than Houston Nutt, Ed Orgeron, David Cutcliffe or Tommy Tuberville had?

The answer, of course, is no.  And for that reason, we understand why the half of the UM fanbase that wanted Mike Leach or another more proven commodity as head coach are disappointed.  “A guy who could’ve at least guaranteed some fun on fall Saturdays wasn’t given a look… but a guy who was coaching girls basketball in 2004 was?”  Yeah, we hear ya.

Yesterday, Freeze was greeted warmly on the Ole Miss campus.  At his opening press conference he thrilled the 1,500 souls who showed up to hear him by announcing, “It’s good to get back to the University of Mississippi.”  Take that, Dan Mullen.

Freeze won the press conference, as they say.  But Nutt won his press conference with his folksy charm four years ago.  Introductory press conferences only go so far.

In the end, Freeze will be judged only by the number of wins he records.  And if that number is less than the number of wins put up by Leach at Washington State — fair or not — the UM fans who are scratching their heads today will be wagging their tongues in the years to come.

Other notes from Freeze’s grand unveiling:

* Mike Glenn, the FedEx executive who led the Ole Miss search committee alongside Archie Manning says Freeze was the #1 choice all along.  “I know leadership when I see it.”

* The search committee told UM chancellor Dan Jones that Freeze “is the best fit for Ole Miss.”

* Freeze — who’ll make $1.5 million per year with bonuses that could bring the package to $2.5 — said yesterday:  “If you want to walk into our offices and meeting rooms after about a week that we’ve been together and ask them what is our ‘it’ here, their answer will be real simple.  Offensively our ‘it’ will be to be a fundamentally efficient scoring machine.  That’s it.  That’s simple.  If you walk into our defensive room and ask our kids what is our ‘it,’ our defense will say, everyone of them will say, it is to relentlessly pursue the football and knock the ever-loving stink out of the ball-carrier.  That’s how it is.”

* Freeze wouldn’t say the words “Mullen” or “Mississippi State,” but he did say of the Egg Bowl:  “It’s not big, it’s paramount.  I have great respect for the job he’s done there and certainly take nothing away from that job, but being raised here, I have a quite good understanding of what that means.  The administration doesn’t have to tall me that. … Again, great respect for what they’ve done, but it’s about regaining the momentum.”

* Regarding his quick ascent in the coaching world, Freeze said:  “It’s a God thing to go from high school to here.  The time I spent here then left, that was devastating for me because of my love for this place.  My whole aspiration was to find a way to get back.”

* Freeze cried openly as he met with his Arkansas State team before leaving.  After a 10-minute talk, his ex-team gave him a standing ovation as he left the room.  That’s pretty impressive in its own right.

* The Rebels’ new coach made it clear that Ole Miss is his dream job:  “This is a destination place for me.  It is not a stop along the path.  It is where I want to live, it’s where I want to be, it’s where I want to retire.  This is home to me.”

* Some UM fans summed up their backing of Freeze’s hire with three words: “I trust Archie.”

* Freeze calls coaching his “ministry” and this long-time Jackson writer says that if the new guy “coaches as well as he preaches” then the Rebs got a winner.

* Freeze’s next big job?  Connecting with Ole Miss’ recruits.

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Richt Says Grantham Not Proud Of Choke Sign

When asked about Todd Grantham’s much-discussed choke sign during last Saturday’s Florida game, Mark Richt tried to downplay it.

“I’ll just say that emotions run high and people do things that they probably with they wouldn’t do,” the coach said.  “I think that was what was being communicated.  I don’t think he’s necessarily proud of it.  We’re just gonna learn from it and move on.”

Quarterback Aaron Murray told Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph that the fiery gesture was par for Grantham’s course.

“I mean during the game this past week, he was getting me pumped up, getting me going, saying, ‘Ge in the end zone.’  I love Coach Grantham,” Murray said.  “He has some fire to him.  I think the guys love it, I love it personally.  He’s yelling and going crazy, it get me pumped up to see him getting after a defense and getting them ready to go.”

Sounds like this guy’s just a garbled voice away from being Ed Orgeron.

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