Vanderbilt Extends Franklin’s Contract
By Matt Smith
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Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has a 14-11 record in two seasons in Nashville.
On a day in which Vanderbilt found out it would be staying near home for bowl season to play in the Music City Bowl, the Commodores also ensured their head coach wouldn’t be leaving home anytime soon.
Vanderbilt announced a reworked contract for second-year head coach James Franklin on Sunday that also provides pay raises for assistant coaches and substantial upgrades to training facilities and to Vanderbilt Stadium.
“We have entered into a new contract, a long-term contract, that will keep him here for a number of years,” said Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams. “We made a commitment that we were going to be serious about improving the football program at this university. The first step is to hire a good coach and the second step is to keep a good coach. We’re really, really pleased with the progress of our football program.”
Franklin has a 14-11 record in two seasons in Nashville. The Commodores closed their regular season with six straight wins and learned on Sunday that the opportunity for a seventh consecutive victory will come in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 vs. N.C. State. The game is played at LP Field in Nashville, approximately three miles from the Vanderbilt campus. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT with ESPN televising the game.
After its first winning season in SEC play in 30 years, Franklin said locking in the staff and improving both the training and gameday experience for the players is crucial to maintaining the momentum the program has built.
“I was told when I first arrived here that everything we stand for is excellence,” Franklin said. “This just further reinforces that. I’m very, very proud of the progress that we are making. This really is about our kids and our players. I made a promise to them that they could come to Vanderbilt and chase all of their dreams, their wildest dreams at the highest level – academically, athletically, socially, spiritually.”
With four openings for head coaches in the SEC and two in the ACC, Franklin’s name was at the top of many schools’ lists. The new contract ensures Franklin won’t be going anywhere in the near future and enforces his belief that Vanderbilt is a sleeping giant and is fully capable of competing for SEC titles. Williams admitted he had been contacted by other schools who wanted to speak to Franklin.
“Everybody in America [called],” Williams said. “We told them that he’s our football coach.”
Williams added that discussions with Franklin about a new contract began prior to any contact from other schools, saying that he had anticipated calls would come in. Franklin had been silent on the matter prior to Sunday, saying that he was simply waiting for the formalities of the new contract to be completed.
“You’d like to come out with a strong voice and be able to say it’s over,” Franklin explained, “but I wanted to make sure everything was in place before we did that.”
The Commodores can now turn their full attention to Music City Bowl preparations and putting the finishing touches on a 2013 signing class that is expected to rank in the top 20 nationally, a remarkable achievement for a program that went 1-15 in SEC play in the two years prior to Franklin’s arrival.
“I couldn’t be more proud that we’re continuing to move in the right direction, Franklin said. “We have an expectation of winning in everything we do.”