(Photo by Jacob Underwood)
Football head coach James Franklin brought "a ray of sunshine" to his first appearance on Nashville's top-ranked afternoon sports talk show on Thursday.
For one hour, Franklin stayed upbeat while taking on tough questions from 104.5 Sports Zone co-hosts George Plaster and Willy Daunic as well as local callers.
Fifteen minutes into the segment, Franklin wanted to turn the mood around.
"Can we start talking at some point about all of the positives of the program because there's a bunch of them," he said.
Plaster explained that fans have been told it was going to be a new era for the last 40 years, and that they're looking for a legitimate sign that it's going to be different.
"All I can tell you is that I've come here for a specific reason," responded Franklin, calmly and confidently. "There is nothing in my makeup about failure. We're going to find a way to get it done here, one way or another. We're going to get it done together. I feel really, really good about the commitment that's being made."
LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW
More notes from the show:
*Coach Franklin described his first month on the job as "controlled chaos." He's busy recruiting before signing day, assembling his coaching staff and meeting with people in the community.
*On how he was hired, Franklin said he was first called about the Vanderbilt job to determine his level of interest. He liked his situation at Maryland and had no intentions of leaving. After talking to VU's administration, he was impressed and intrigued with the position.
*On why he'll have success at Vanderbilt, he believes he's been hired at the right time. "The administration, the community and the university as a whole have gotten to a point where they've said, 'enough's enough, and we're ready to do this the right way.'"
*On what's different with Vanderbilt's commitment to the football program, he said he can't speak about the past, but since he's arrived, several discussions have been based on a well-planned out expansion project to the facility, but he wants to make sure it's right. At the moment, he believes the players should be taken care of first. "I'm going to fight for those kids."
*On not having a good home field advantage, Franklin said, "It's our job to put a product on the field that people are excited about. With the facilities, with the recruitment, with the staff I'm putting together, we're going to have the ability to do that. We're going to be aggressive with everything we do. We're going to attack recruiting, we're going to attack our opposition, and we're going to keep asking and pushing from an administration standpoint so we can get to the point where basketball and baseball are."
*On selling the program, he expressed that he's willing to do whatever it takes to make the program succeed. "Failure is not an option." Once things slow down after signing day, he plans to put on his "marketing hat."
*He had his first team meeting the day before, since students were on break when he was hired. He told the squad about his direction of the program and asked them to "take a leap of faith" with him and his staff, and to trust his leadership. "I'll fight for them in every aspect of their lives."
*On the recruiting front, he thinks they'll make a bigger impact next year since they only have a few scholarships left for this year's class. "We're going to take a national approach and sell all the reasons Vanderbilt makes sense."
*He said he's willing to look at the football models used by Stanford and Northwestern.
*On non-conference scheduling, he explained: "Initially, you have to take a Kansas State/Bill Snyder philosophy. You'll have to schedule teams that you think you're going to have an opportunity to be competitive with and teach your guys how to win. The best way to do that is by winning. I think it's very important how we schedule from here on out." He added that he'll be very involved in the process.
*On getting local fans back in the stands: "I'll be out selling the program as much as I possibly can, but for the time being, I have to prioritize. Right now, my focus needs to be putting my staff together and recruiting so we can put a great product on the field. I'm willing to do whatever I have to do to get people excited about the program."
*He said administration stepped up by giving him salaries to hire a successful staff.
*On turning things around: "I think our fans are hungry, I think the community is hungry for a winner, and I think the administration is willing to do what they have to do to be successful. I know looking in those players eyes last night, they want to win more than anybody."
*On improving the offense, he said he has a diverse coaching staff that will be able to come up with a flexible plan to take advantage of their strengths. "We going to be aggressive with everything we do and we're not going to be afraid to make mistakes."
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