So James Franklin has a new contract and he’s getting new turf, a Jumbotron, and a 120-yard indoor facility.
While we celebrate the fact that we’ve held on to our head coach for at least another season – do you really believe anybody pays attention to contracts anymore? – let’s also celebrate the job he’s doing this season by looking at how his first year compares to that of current SEC head coaches.
Of the 10 other coaches currently in the SEC with at least one year under their belts (still waiting on Houston Nutt’s replacement), they inherited teams with an average of six wins, and they took their teams and they were able to improve their teams’ regular season records by an average of…
Well, actually, they didn’t improve at all. They took teams with an average of six wins and they won an average of six games.
Do you realize that James Franklin’s six wins in his first season surpasses the first-year records of Dan Mullen and Bobby Petrino (five wins each), and equals the six-win first seasons of Will Muschamp, Derek Dooley and – yes – Nick Saban.
But Franklin didn’t win six games with the talent, resources and winning history of Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas or even Mississippi State. He inherited a Vanderbilt team that, as he is quick to remind us, had won two games in each of the past two seasons.
Here’s how Franklin ranks among current SEC coaches for team improvement in his first regular season:
1. James Franklin, Vanderbilt: +4 (6 wins with a two-win team)
2. Gene Chizik, Auburn: +2 (7 wins with a 5-win team)
3. Dan Mullen, Miss State: +1 (5 wins with a 4-win team)
4. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina: +1 (7 wins with a 6-win team)
5. Mark Richt, Georgia: +1 (8 wins with a 7-win team)
6. Les Miles, LSU: +1 (10 wins with a 9-win team)
7. Nick Saban, Alabama: Even (6 wins with a 6-win team)
8. Joker Phillips, Kentucky: -1 (6 wins with a 7-win team)
9. Derek Dooley, Tennessee: -1 (6 wins with a 7-win team)
10. Will Muschamp, Florida: -1 (6 wins with a 7-win team)
11. Bobby Petrino, Arkansas: -3 (5 wins with an 8-win team)