Vandy’s James Franklin has changed SEC East dynamic

The day after Kentucky was dominated by Vanderbilt, losing 40-0 to the Commodores, the school fired head coach Joker Phillips. The day after Tennessee was dominated by Vanderbilt, losing 41-18 to the Commodores, the school fired head coach Derek Dooley.

That is not a coincidence.

Few coaches have changed the recent dynamic of the SEC more than Vanderbilt's James Franklin, the former coach-in-waiting at Maryland who either skipped or was pushed from a chance to coach the Terps and took the supposedly no-win job in Nashville before last season.

Thing is, Franklin is winning. He's 13-11 as the Commodores coach. Vanderbilt has clinched its second straight bowl bid and — get this — its first winning SEC football season since 1982. Kentucky hasn't had a winning record in conference football games since 1977.

So that's right — Vanderbilt has now produced two winning SEC football seasons since UK's last winning SEC football season.

Franklin has bludgeoned Kentucky by a combined count of 78-8 over the last two years. He all but had Tennessee beat last year, losing in overtime, sparking Derek Dooley's ridiculous post-game locker room celebration. A year later, Vanderbilt whipped the Vols, beating Tennessee in Nashville for the first time since 1982 and by the largest margin since a 26-0 shutout of UT in 1954.

Mocked for his helicopter rides into Atlanta to see prospects, Franklin is recruiting well. And coaching well. And winning. As two losing coaches are now looking for jobs.

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  1. operationruse says:

    Good tidbit Mr. Clay. Franklin has undoubtedly changed expectations for many of us U.K. fans. Before Franklin (and to some extent Charlie Strong) came on the scene, we always heard that U.K. simply could not recruit with the big boys. Kentucky is the northern most SEC, no instate recruiting base, yada, yada, yada. Franklin has demonstrated that it just takes the right kind of salesman, which is what U.K. needs most if we are not going to go after the clearly best tactician in Petrino.

  2. operationruse says:

    One thing that Franklin has done is highlighted the positives of Vandy. Opportunity at a great education and great city in Nashville. Those advantages obviously existed before Franklin was there, but he is selling them. Do people honestly believe that Lexington does not have some inherent advantages in comparison to a place like Starkville? You just need the right guy to sell those advantages to recruits. We also need to quit hosting recruits in a room with picnic tables because it sends a message to those recruits that Kentucky does not care as much as the other schools recruiting them.

  3. operationruse says:

    One final thought. Kentucky has to get someone here to lock down the state, particularly Louisville. You can talk about how we cannot compete with the big boys in recruiting out of state guys all you want, but at this point we are not even getting the best instate players. Would Kentucky be better in the next few years if we signed James Quick, Ryan Timmons, Jason Hatcher, and Hunter Bivin in this class as opposed to some out of state two star guys with no offers from SEC schools?

    Look at what South Carolina did. They focused instate and got significantly better, which allowed them to have a springboard to recruit better out of state. If South Carolina has a significantly better instate recruiting base (which they clearly do), doesn’t that make it imperative that schools like Kentucky with fewer numbers make the best possible effort to get all the high caliber instate guys they can? Have you seen the running back from Madison Southern? Kid is going to be a high level national recruit. Kentucky’s new staff should dedicate one coach to recruit that kid 24/7.

    Charlie Strong never has focused that much on Louisville and the apparent impending demise of the Big East from BCS consideration leaves open an opportunity for us. Vandy has a commit from a four star cornerback at Trinity that was previously committed to Strong. If Vandy can steal high level recruits from Louisville, why should we not be able to do the same?

  4. kybasser says:

    @clarence metcalf… That was a very racist remark you left. Coach Phillips did the best he could do, and all UK fans are disappointed, regardless of his color. I for one definitely wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors. I am really sorry it didn’t work out… I was really rooting for him, and no, I’m not black!