Monday was a slow day in South Carolina football news, so I’d like to take this morning to try to figure something out.
How in the world is Vanderbilt coach James Franklin a candidate for the Southern Call head coaching job? Not just a candidate, but a consensus candidate. Franklin was asked about all the speculation about the Trojans job on Monday and handled it by dodging the question, which is the only smart thing for a coach to do in that situation.
Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com, who knows college football better than anyone, lists Franklin as one of the top contenders for the job from which Lane Kiffin was vacated early Sunday morning. (Seriously, they fired Kiffin in the airport parking lot after the Trojans flew back from a loss to Arizona State.)
“My sources say if offered, Franklin would jump at the job,” Feldman wrote.
I would think so.
CBSSports.com columnist Greg Doyel says Franklin ought to be the choice if two home run candidates – Stanford’s David Shaw and Boise State’s Chris Peterson – turn down the job.
“Shaw is greatness. Petersen is greatness. Franklin is the promise of greatness. All three are admirable men, people the rest of the country would -- or should, anyway -- nod at and say, ‘Yup, that's a great hire right there,’” Doyel wrote.
I get the “promise” part and I get that Franklin is a charismatic dude.
This is part of what the Vanderbilt website says in its official biography of the coach: “His efforts have paid dividends with feature stories and videos landing on prominent websites such as SI.com and ESPN.com and in publications such as Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Just last August, a video featuring Franklin awarding a scholarship to walk-on fullback Marc Panu went viral, collecting 400,000 views on YouTube and was featured on ESPN SportsCenter.”
That’s all well and good, but what has a football team coached by him has done to warrant this kind of attention? You don’t need to hand out ice cream on campus, as Franklin has done in Nashville, to generate interest in Southern Cal football. You need to win football games.
And that’s the part where Franklin is a completely unproven commodity. Vanderbilt won nine games last season, I get that, there was not a single win of note in that season. The two best-looking wins were victories over Missouri and Tennessee teams that were complete train wrecks. This year, the Commodores are 0-2 in the SEC and play an improved Missouri team, Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida in the next four weeks.
I wonder if Franklin will remain a candidate if he’s 0-6 in the SEC in a month?
Around the SEC:
Like Marcus Lattimore, Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley will do his rehabbing from knee surgery as a professional football player. Easley has decided to turn pro and not consider a medical redshirt season with the Gators.
The most interesting SEC West story of the week is the continued fallout from Alabama’s 25-0 win over Ole Miss. Former Hugh Freeze assistant Tyler Siskey, hired away in the offseason by Alabama to be a recruiting assistant, was in the coaches box for the game and was shown on ESPN watching the Rebels’ sideline through binoculars. Plenty of Ole Miss people think Siskey was stealing signs, which might not be a rules violation but would be considered ultra-tacky at the minimum, but Freeze is staying out of the fray.