After back to back regular season 8-4 records and 3 straight bowl games at Vandy James Franklin is a hot commodity for schools that are looking for a new football coach. Southern Cal has supposedly found their new coach in Steve Sarkisian but with Texas and possibly Florida looking plus the the domino effect that could ensue there is a lot of speculation that Franklin may not be on the sidelines at Dudley Field next season.
Franklin is content at Vanderbilt but there are a lot of things that he is very unhappy about. According to a former player we talked to the rape scandal that took place earlier this year is something that the coach wants to separate himself from. Franklin hates how it became a distraction and how his named was linked to it in the media even though the reports never were proven to be true.
Another thorn in Franklin’s side is the poor attendance at home on Saturdays. This really is no secret. Coach Franklin tweets constantly about the importance of selling out home games each week. It negatively impacts recruiting against bigger schools. Recruits go to several games each year to different schools around the country. Imagine you are an 17 year old kid with several schools coming after you and going to a sold out game at Auburn or Alabama then coming to Vanderbilt the next week where it’s barely half full against UAB. It might make you lean more towards the big crowd and fun atmosphere on Saturday.
Another issues with attendance is it also makes bowl committees think twice about inviting the Commodores. Bowl games are a business and they are in the business of selling tickets. Vanderbilt has the smallest alumni base in the SEC and has a harder time selling tickets than schools with more alumni like Georgia or Florida. Vanderbilt did well drawing a crowd to Memphis and Nashville the past two years because they were close the the school. Would Vandy fans travel as well to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl or the Outback Bowl in Tampa? My guess is probably not. Next year the SEC will take over the bowl selection process and will have a say in which school goes to what bowl but until then selling tickets is paramount.
Coach Franklin’s contract is for approximately 3.5 million a year which makes him the fifth highest paid coach in the SEC just behind Nick Saban, Kevin Sumlin, Les Miles, and Steve Spurrier. According to a source in the athletic department there is no buy out clause. But the way the contract is written the turf on the football field that was put down two years ago and the new 31 million dollar indoor practice facility is tied to Coach Franklin and his contract. And if he leaves whichever school wants our coach has to pay off the upgrades that Franklin asked for and received.
Vanderbilt has taken steps to keep Franklin this year without giving him a new contract just yet. After big wins this year the coach has asked for concessions that were not in his contract. One of them is a percentage of apparel. Our source in the athletic department told us that after the Dores defeated Georgia and Florida Franklin asked for a percentage of apparel sales. It’s unclear if it’s any kind of clothing with Vanderbilt on it or just Vanderbilt football apparel. Either way David Williams conceded this to the coach even though it is not in his contract. Our source added that while Williams gave him what he asked for there are others higher up in the university that thought it should’ve been handled differently and it should have been negotiated after the season was over into a new deal. But it does show the commitment that our Athletic Director has to Franklin and to keeping him on West End.
Vanderbilt dodged a bullet today when USC picked Sarkisian to be their new football coach but even if Texas, Florida, or now Washington come calling it’s really doubtful that Franklin goes anywhere anytime soon.