What did James Franklin say after last night’s 34-0 loss to Alabama?
He said: “We’re gonna get this fixed, I can guarantee you that.”
What’s he doing to fix Vanderbilt? Sure, he’s installing his system, which includes working hard and believing in yourself and trying to execute as well as you can and all that. That’s not incredibly different from the kinds of things past Vandy coaches have said.
But the biggest thing he’s doing is recruiting. Unlike other coaches, who seemed to believe they were limited by the types of athletes they could attract to Nashville, Franklin believes he can stockpile authentic SEC athletes. The way he closed on last year’s class was a minor miracle – or looked that way to Vandy fans – and the way he’s piled up verbal commitments in the last six months have been nothing short of spectacular by VU standards.
Some Vanderbilt fans are starting to complain that Franklin’s offense is no more productive than, say, Bobby Johnson’s. And the team's biggest problem, they believe, is that the wrong guy on our roster is playing quarterback.
Listen to what Nick Saban said about Vanderbilt last night after the game:
“They are doing a good job with their team. They play hard and create a lot of problems for you on offense and do a lot of things to take advantage and play well with the guys they have.”
Play well with the guys they have. That’s what Franklin’s doing. He’ll tell you that he loves the players he has, and we believe him, but the players he’ll be loving in four years are going to be better than the ones he’s loving today. That’s what he’s guaranteeing us, and I for one believe him.
Listen to what Franklin said after the game about his receiving corps:
“We’re not in a situation right now where we’ve got guys creating a lot of separation. That’s fine. That’s the world we’re living in right now. We’ve got to be able to make the catch with the guy hanging all over you.”
That’s the world we’re living in right now. In a couple of years, the world we’re living in will have receivers who can separate from SEC defensive backs or at least make tough catches.
Last night Alabama receivers made four touchdown receptions with our DBs draped all over them.
James Franklin plans to go get a whole team full of players who can compete with Alabama and South Carolina and Georgia.
Yes, Georgia. Get yourself ready, folks. The Bulldogs aren’t as well-coached as Alabama but they’ve got the same caliber of athletes, even on the defensive side of the ball.
The future of Franklin’s Commodores does not depend on Vandy going to a bowl this season. Army and Kentucky look extremely beatable. Tennessee appears to be having another down year, but they’ve still got better athletes than we do on both sides of the ball. And the other team we’ve been chalking up as a victory since summer, Wake Forest, just embarrassed Florida State and is undefeated in the ACC.
Don’t get your hopes up.
This is not about going to a bowl this season, though it's certainly possible and would be awfully nice. This is about getting the kind of players we need to compete – and who can compete academically at Vanderbilt. Those guys are out there, and James Franklin’s going to find them.
And once he does, the product he puts on the field will sell itself. For now, he's got to sell what's going to happen.