HOOVER, Ala. — Early on during his time at the podium, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said probably the biggest challenge the Commodores are facing is “handling success.”
And is often the case with successful college football program, success on the field has also meant problems off-the-field. No different at Vanderbilt, which this summer has become embroiled in a sex crime investigation that prompted the dismissal of four players from the football team.
Franklin got several questions about the incident from the media and sidestepped each one saying he could not talk about the investigation. He would not even answer a question about whether it was a university decision, a football decision or a mutual decision to dismiss the four players.
– Franklin began by rattling off a success sheet – that Vanderbilt had been to four bowl games in 122 years and now has been to two straight bowl games in the last two years. Vanderbilt had not won nine games since 1915. It won nine games last year. The Commodores finished the season on a seven-game win streak, the longest streak in the conference.
– Franklin said Vanderbilt is the only program not to lose an assistant coach from last year.
– With Vandy going to two straight bowl games, many expected Franklin to move on to a bigger and better job. “It’s been known to people that we’ve had other opportunities,” Franklin said. “But we believe in what we’re doing and we believe in the commitment that the kids have made.”
– On the Thursday night opener August 29 against visiting Ole Miss. “I think it’s great for college football, great for the SEC and I know it’s great for Vanderbilt.”
– As for the “incident” Franklin kept repeating that he could not comment on it at all. He did say that the program has not changed its approach to recruiting because of the off-the-field news.
– Franklin said he is very good friends with Vandy baseball coach Tim Corbin.
– And Franklin said that he has no strong opinion on uptempo offenses and safety concerns but does believe strongly that “we should play by the same rules.” He implied there is too much inconsistency in what is allowed to happen when teams are running uptempo offenses.