The comments former Maryland offensive coordinator James Franklin made about the criteria he uses in choosing his assistant coaches at Vanderbilt came as a surprise to me.
I always thought Franklin, like a lot of college coaches, was a used car salesman, not a sexist.
If you haven’t heard, the second-year Vanderbilt coach was chatting up a Nashville radio talk show when the subject of assistant coaches came up.
Instead of saying something like, “I took the best guys off Ralph Friedgen’s staff and cost him his job,” Franklin said, “I’ve been saying for a long time, I will not hire an assistant until I’ve seen his wife. If she looks the part and she’s a D-I recruit, then you’ve got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal.”
If Franklin had stopped there, maybe we could have thought he was joking. But like a lot of guys who think they’re the smartest and funniest guy in the room, Franklin kept going.
“There’s a very strong correlation between having the confidence, going up and talking to a woman, and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being fun and articulate, that it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him,” he said.
It was the first major mistep Franklin took in his first head coaching job. He won six games at Vanderbilt last season, a remarkable feat for a team typically considered the doormat in the Southeastern Conference.
What he did made many – including me – think differently about that “coach-in-waiting” contract that Debbie Yow signed Franklin to before she and then he left. I often wondered what would have happened had Franklin been hired to replace Friedgen rather than Randy Edsall.
Of course, the man who hired Franklin at Vanderbilt was quick to distance himself from those comments.
“He clearly made a mistake,” said university vice-chancellor for athletics David Williams. “And clearly what he said is not how he feels and not how we feel.”
I am sure that Vanderbilt would not have hired Franklin if that question had come up in his interview and he had given that answer. I get the feeling that Franklin believes he is untouchable after the kind of season he had with the Commodores, but the truth is, Bobby Johnson went 7-6 and won a bowl game in 2008. Johnson went 2-10 the following season and abruptly, uh, retired.
Here’s a little hint, James: you’re a couple of 3-8 seasons away from being an offensive coordinator again, something that is more likely to happen than not in the country’s toughest conference. He should have left well enough alone at 6-7. (As good as the Commodores were in Franklin’s first season, they were still 2-6 in the SEC.)
Franklin offered his apology, via Twitter, writing, “My foot doesn't taste good, I hope I did not offend any1, I love & respect ALL,have a great day, enjoy the fam & don't forget 2.”
He has since sent out three more tweets:
“Attempt at humor obviously fell a few yds short. Was speaking to the courage it takes 4 men 2 approach the women who become their wives!!!!!”
“If a man can convince the women of his dreams 2 marry him,he can probably do just about anything,that type of confidence along w/ coaching”
And finally “Skills is what I am looking 4.As a husband & father of 2 daughters I regret the way I conveyed my message!”
Franklin will learn from this, but so will those who thought he was just another used car salesman. I know I have.