Friday, December 2, 2011
Vanderbilt gives Franklin new contract
By Chris Low
After leading Vanderbilt to a bowl game in his first season, James Franklin is sporting a brand new contract.
"We have torn up the contract for James Franklin and rewarded him and his family with a new contract with extended years and a substantial increase in compensation," Vanderbilt vice chancellor for athletics David Williams said Friday during a news conference. "Vanderbilt's position has been and continues to be to not go into details of a contract. But let it be said that we have awarded the coach and his family a new contract, not only for what he has brought here, but what he will bring in the future."
Here's the best part for Franklin, over and above a sweeter deal: It sounds like Vanderbilt is going to finally pony up when it comes to improving facilities. It's been talked about, discussed and proposed for several years now, but Williams said Friday that a new indoor multi-purpose practice facility would be in place no later than the 2014 season. And over the next two years, Williams said Vanderbilt Stadium would be getting a new JumboTron, new field turf and new lighting.
Franklin's name was already starting to pop up in connection with other head coaching vacancies around the country, and Vanderbilt didn't want to take any chances.
"I'm really proud of the team," Franklin said. "I'm really proud of the staff, the administration, the whole community for the support in the things we've been able to do in a very short period of time. But let me also say this, by no means, and I know everybody realizes this, have we arrived. This is a real positive step in the right direction, and we have a lot more work to do in a lot of different areas. But this is a really positive step in the right direction. I couldn't be more excited about the direction we're going in from so many different ways."
Obviously, that edge Franklin brought to Vanderbilt's program this season hasn't gone unnoticed by school officials. In fact, it might even be infectious.
Get a load of Williams' response when he was asked Friday why a stronger commitment to the football program took so long. Former coach Bobby Johnson had also been promised some of these same things, particularly after leading the Commodores to a 7-6 record and bowl victory in 2008.
"'I'm going to take a page out of my coach's book: Why do you want to talk about the past?" Williams said. "We're going to build the damn thing. Who cares why we didn't do it in the past? We're going to build the damn thing. I can't change what we didn't do. What I can tell you is we have basically changed the direction at this university. We can sit here for weeks and I can give you all sorts of reasons why it didn't get done in the past. The thing to celebrate is whatever was in the way ... ain't in the way no more. We're going to build it. "