Alma Mater: East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University (B.S., Psychology, 1995)
Graduate Degree: Washington State University (M.A., Educational Leadership, 1999)
Family: Wife, Fumi; Daughters, Ava and Addison
In three seasons, Head Coach James Franklin has guided the Vanderbilt football program to unprecedented heights, while rewriting pages of Vanderbilt's record book each season.
An exceptional motivator and tireless worker, Franklin exudes an unmatched passion for his program in everything he does. In short time, he has completely changed the team's internal culture, as well as its regional and national reputation, through his strong leadership, infectious personality and on-field results.
A relentless salesman and cheerleader for everything that represents the Star V, Franklin has backed up his words by guiding the Commodores to three straight bowl games and racking up more wins over a three-year span than any Vanderbilt coach since College Football Hall of Famer Dan McGugin. He holds an overall record of 23-15 and is one win shy of tying's McGugin's total through his first three years (1904-06). In the last 19 games, Franklin is 15-4, a record that is only surpassed in the SEC by Alabama.
In all three seasons under Franklin, the Commodores have accomplished highs not achieved since decades earlier, or ever before. And with each, year the accomplishments have only exceeded those from the previous season. In 2011, he inherited a team that had finished 2-10 in two consecutive seasons and directed them to an appearance in the Liberty Bowl. In 2012, Franklin led the Commodores to nine wins - their most since 1915 -- which included a victory in the Music City Bowl. This year, Vanderbilt defeated Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in the same season for the first time ever and again won eight games in the regular season for the second straight year -- a first since the 1920s. A win in the bowl game will give Vanderbilt two straight years of nine wins for the first time in school history. His on-the-field accomplishments have been accompanied by three straight years of signing the highest-rated recruiting class in school history and the continuous mentoring of student-athletes who have earned numerous individual and collective academic honors.
Players and fans alike have gravitated toward Franklin through his energy and love for the program. He has developed a fun, energetic and close-knit family atmosphere that current, former and future players desire. A staple in the community, Franklin has spent countless hours speaking to local groups and visiting with students on campus. If he isn't spreading his message in person, he is doing so through his many radio and television interviews or on Twitter, where his ever-active account, @JamesFranklinVU, has nearly 30,000 followers.
Always conscious of the platform he has and the surroundings in which he lives, Franklin never passes up an opportunity to assist others through random acts of kindness. Whether it is pausing a press conference to hug a grateful bystander, helping Vanderbilt freshmen move into dorms, inviting a cancer patient to attend practices, visiting patients at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital, allowing an inspiring 11-year-old boy to lead the team onto the field for homecoming or passing out ice cream during a campus event, Franklin is the first one in line looking to spread goodwill.
Franklin's generosity and overall success as a coach has sparked the interest of football fans and media members across the country as people look to learn more about the mind behind the program's meteoric rise from the depths of the SEC. Franklin has welcomed the intrigue by providing unprecedented access to what takes place behind the scenes. From pregame and postgame locker room speeches, to team meetings and trips inside the war room on signing day, Franklin has made a conscious effort to provide the public with an inside look at his program.
His efforts to share in the success of Vanderbilt's program have paid dividends with feature stories and videos landing on prominent websites such as SI.com, ESPN.com, Yahoo.com and in publications such as Sports Illustrated, the New York Times and the Washington Post. The access Franklin provides has also enabled Vanderbilt's staff to capture a number of viral videos that have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people and featured on programs such as ESPN's SportsCenter.
Franklin's impact on campus can also be seen just a few hundred feet from the football offices where a new indoor multipurpose facility opened in November. The facility is available for all Vanderbilt teams, students and staff members and includes a 120-yard field, which is encircled by a 300-meter track.
The multipurpose facility is the latest in a line of facility enhancements that have been made since Franklin arrived. Before the 2012 season, a new video board and hillside seating area in the south end zone were added to Vanderbilt Stadium. Additionally, new stadium lights enhanced the gameday experience and an artificial surface improved playing conditions on Dudley Field.
Hired as the first African-American head coach in Vanderbilt gridiron history on Dec. 17, 2010, Franklin's off-the-field accomplishments have helped fuel excitement in and around the program, but the results on the field have been even more impressive.
Just when skeptics doubted whether he could match the success from his first two seasons, he trumped both years with what he has done in 2013. Despite losing a number of key contributors, including record-setting running back Zac Stacy, the Commodores again won eight regular season games. Along the way, Vanderbilt ended prolonged losing streaks to Georgia and Florida, and earned back-to-back wins against Tennessee for the first time since 1925 and 1926. The win against the 15th-ranked Bulldogs was Vanderbilt's first at home since 1991 and also marked Franklin's first victory against a ranked opponent. By defeating Florida, the Commodores ended a 22-game losing streak and won in Gainesville for the first time since 1945. Vanderbilt's other conference win came against Kentucky - a school Franklin is 3-0 against.
Vanderbilt's final two regular-season wins came in the final minute of the game. Against Tennessee, Vanderbilt drove 92 yards to defeat the Vols when quarterback Patton Robinette faked a jump pass and ran it in from eight yards out for the score with 16 seconds remaining. The play was just the latest of Franklin's arsenal of gadget plays the Commodores have dialed up under his watch. Vanderbilt followed its game-winning drive at Tennessee with another one against Wake Forest, just one week later. This time, quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels connected with wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who made a remarkable 25-yard catch on fourth-and-11 to put the Commodores in field goal range for Carey Spear, who drilled a 38-yarder with 39 seconds to go.
The two wins gave Vanderbilt four straight to end the regular season. It was the second straight year, Vanderbilt had closed the season on a long winning streak after taking seven straight to close 2012. The late-season success comes as a drastic change from years of late-season futility that preceded Franklin. In the previous 15 years before Franklin arrived (1996-2010), Vanderbilt posted a 5-46 mark in games played in November. Since his arrival, Vanderbilt is 10-2 during the month and has won nine straight games dating back to the final game of the 2011 regular season. It is the longest win streak in November since 1903-1905.
Under Franklin, the Commodores have also been extremely successful against non-conference foes. Vanderbilt finished 2013 with a 4-0 record in non-conference play, marking the second 4-0 non-conference slate in three seasons by Franklin. Overall, the Commodores are 11-1 in the regular season against non-SEC foes under Franklin.
One of the many high points during the 2013 season was the continued mentoring of senior wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who set virtually every SEC and Vanderbilt receiving record during the year. Matthews set SEC career records in receptions and yards, and a single-season league mark in receptions. Matthews surpassed former Commodore Earl Bennett's receptions record and former Georgia wide receiver Terrence Edwards' yardage record, while becoming the first Vanderbilt wide receiver to top 1,000 yards receiving twice during a career.
Franklin's 2013 team again has excelled in all three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams. The offense is close to mirroring its record-setting pace of 2012. The success on offense has been enhanced by Vanderbilt's superb play in the red zone. The team leads the SEC in red-zone success, having scored on 88 percent of possessions inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Most importantly, Vanderbilt has scored touchdowns on 67 percent of its trips inside the red zone.
Defensively, the Commodores finished the regular season ranked in the top 25 in total defense for the third season in a row. The opportunistic defense forced 20 takeaways in the final six games. On special teams, Vanderbilt ranked second in the country in kickoff return defense by allowing just 15.85 yards per return.
The 2013 campaign has come on the heels of Vanderbilt finishing 9-4 overall, matching the school record for wins last achieved in 1915, and ending the season with the longest winning streak in the Southeastern Conference, having won seven straight. It was Vanderbilt's longest win streak since an eight-game streak in 1948.
The remarkable 2012 campaign also included Vanderbilt tying another school record with five victories in SEC play. One of those conference wins, against Tennessee, marked Vanderbilt's most decisive victory in the series since 1954.
The team also won on the road in 2012. Three of Vanderbilt's five SEC wins came at Missouri, Kentucky and Ole Miss. A convincing win at Wake Forest gave Vanderbilt four road victories, the most by a Commodore squad since 1948.
Vanderbilt's victory at Missouri was Franklin's first road triumph in the SEC. The team's 40-0 shutout at Kentucky was its second shutout of the season, marking the first time Vanderbilt had two shutouts in the same year since 1968. The win at Ole Miss was its sixth win of the season and came after facing a 23-6 deficit in the third quarter.
The Commodores culminated the season with a 38-24 win over N.C. State in the 2012 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. After the victory Franklin also was named as one of five finalists for National Coach of the Year honors from the Bryant Awards.
Vanderbilt also ended the season ranked No. 20 in the USA Today-Coaches Top 25 poll and No. 23 in the Associated Press ballot. It marked the program's first inclusion in the final Top 25 poll since 1958.
Franklin also helped mentor three players to school records in 2012. Running back Zac Stacy became Vanderbilt's all-time leading rusher and was the first player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Receiver Jordan Matthews set Vanderbilt's single-season receiving yardage record with 1,323 yards and accumulated 94 catches, the second highest receptions total in Vanderbilt and SEC history. Kicker Carey Spear set a new school record by making 20 of 24 field goals.
In three seasons at the helm, Franklin has won 60.5 percent of his games, a winning percentage not achieved since Red Sanders (1940-42, 1946-48). He has also led the Commodores to 11 conference wins, including six by 23 points or more. From 1955-2010, Vanderbilt had six total wins against SEC opponents by 23-plus points.
Prior to accepting the Vanderbilt position, Franklin spent five seasons coordinating highly productive offensive units at the University of Maryland and Kansas State University. In his second stint at Maryland from 2008-10, Franklin served as offensive coordinator, and later added the title of assistant head coach at Maryland. In 2010, he helped the Terrapins to an impressive 9-4 turnaround. That season, Franklin's explosive offense averaged 32.2 points and topped 50 points in three games. Maryland redshirt freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien finished the 2010 season as one of the nation's most efficient signal callers, throwing for 2,438 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions while earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors. First team All-ACC receiver Torrey Smith, an eventual second round NFL pick, flourished under Franklin's system, finishing 2010 with 67 receptions, 1,055 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Franklin went to Maryland after spending the 2006-07 seasons as offensive coordinator at Kansas State. He helped the Wildcats earn their first winning season in four years and a berth in the inaugural Texas Bowl. In 2006, Franklin focused on mentoring talented true freshman quarterback Josh Freeman. In 2007, Franklin's offense produced a 3,000-yard passer (Freeman), 1,500-yard receiver (All-America wide receiver Jordy Nelson), and 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in school history.
Today, Freeman and Nelson have found great success in the NFL. Freeman, a first round pick by Tampa Bay in 2009, was the starting quarterback for the Bucs from midway through the 2009 season until after the third game of the 2013 season when he was traded to Minnesota. Nelson grabbed a touchdown pass in the Green Bay Packers' 2011 victory in Super Bowl XLV, and has consistently been one of the NFL's top wide receivers the last three seasons.
Franklin spent the 2005 season coaching wide receivers for the Green Bay Packers. During that season, wide receiver Donald Driver set new career-high marks with 86 receptions for 1,221 yards.
After his brief but successful NFL tenure, Franklin returned to the college ranks for the opportunity to devise offensive schemes and gain in-game play calling experience at the coordinator level. Franklin's opportunity with the most-storied team in the NFL came on the heels of a five-year role coaching wide receivers at Maryland. During his tenure, the Terps earned three postseason berths including an appearance in the 2002 BCS FedEx Orange Bowl.
Franklin's role at Maryland also expanded to recruiting coordinator in 2003. Franklin delivered back-to back recruiting classes ranked in the Top-25 by Rivals.com.
Early in his career, Franklin committed himself to being a student of the game: taking strategies, tools and tips from great coaches at a variety of competitive levels.
Franklin began his career in 1995 as the wide receivers coach at Kutztown (Pa.) University. Then, he returned to his alma mater, East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University learning the game from the defensive side of the ball coaching cornerbacks and safeties under veteran coach Denny Douds. He then earned a Division I position at James Madison University coaching wide receivers.
In 1998, Franklin earned his first opportunity to participate in the NFL's Minority Coaching Fellowship Program. Franklin interned with the Minnesota Vikings, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Miami Dolphins. Franklin also worked with Mike Price coaching tight ends at Washington State in 1998. The following year, Franklin helped Idaho State rank among the NCAA's best in total offense as ISU's receivers coach.
Franklin developed a passion for the game as a four-year letter-winning quarterback at East Stroudsburg. He was a two-time Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference selection. As a senior, he garnered MVP honors and was a Harlon Hill Trophy nominee for Division II Player of the Year after setting seven school records.
Franklin earned a Bachelor's in psychology from East Stroudsburg in 1995 and a Master's in educational leadership from Washington State in 1999.
Franklin and his family reside in Nashville. He and his wife, Fumi, are the parents of two daughters, Shola, 7, and Addy, 6.
2011-13 Head Coach, Vanderbilt Franklin was named as a finalist for the Bear Bryant Awards' National Coach of the Year honor after 2012 season. His win total after two seasons at Vanderbilt (15) ranks as the most by second-year Commodore coach since 1904.
In 2012, Franklin guides Commodores to a 9-4 record, tying school record for wins dating back to World War I. The 2012 unit finishes the year ranked in the Top 25 by both the USA Today/Coaches Poll (20th) and Associated Press Poll (23rd). The team also becomes the first in school history to experience back-to-back bowl appearances in school history, capping the year with a decisive 38-24 victory over N.C. State in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Franklin's 2012 squad goes undefeated in November games for first time since 1982. The Commodores also ended on a seven-game win streak, which ranks as the SEC's longest active streak.
The 2012 Commodore offense features a 1,000-yard rusher in Zac Stacy and 1,000-yard receiver in Jordan Matthews. Franklin's push for season tickets results in substantial increases in total attendence and helps Vanderbilt enjoy three home sellouts, including first consecutive home sellouts in 16 years. The 2012 team beat Missouri, Kentucky and Ole Miss in consecutive SEC road games, marking first time Vanderbilt has ever accomplished that feat.
In 2011 Franklin guides Commodores to a 6-6 regular season record and appearance in AutoZone Liberty Bowl in his first year. The team shows vast improvement, ranking as the SEC's most improved offense and defense. The squad also wins five home games in 2011, most by Vanderbilt in more than a decade.
Eight players from the 2011 squad earn postseason recognition, including defensive back Casey Hayward (2011 All-America by Walter Camp Foundation) and offensive record setters Zac Stacy and Jordan Matthews.
Franklin builds enthusiasm among fan base and works non-stop growing support for program on campus and in the community. After the campaign, Franklin lands one of the strongest signing classes in team history.
2008-10 Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach, University of Maryland On December 23, 2007, Ralph Friedgen brought Franklin back to Maryland as the Terrapins' assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. In February 2009, Franklin was designated as Friedgen's successor at Maryland.
The Terrapins compiled an 9-4 record in 2010, finishing second in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division and posting a convincing postseason win over East Carolina in the Military Bowl. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien earned the ACC Rookie of the Year and first-team Freshman All-America honors under Franklin's mentorship, ranking third nationally among freshmen with a pass efficiency rating of 135.2. O'Brien threw for 22 touchdowns against only eight interceptions after becoming the team's starter in week four.
Franklin's offense committed only 12 turnovers during the 2010 regular campaign, ranking No. 3 nationally in giveaways. Wide receiver Torrey Smith also flourished this year, catching 67 passes for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to earning first-team All-ACC honors.
For the fourth time in his career, Franklin also was honored as a Top 25 recruiter by Rivals.com for helping to secure a class that included a number of four-star athletes
In Franklin's first season as offensive coordinator in College Park, the Terrapins defeated four ranked teams en route to a victory in the 2008 Roady's Humanitarian Bowl and an 8-5 overall record. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was chosen by the Oakland Raiders as the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
2006-07 Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach, Kansas State University Franklin was hired to be the offensive coordinator for Kansas State in 2006. He helped the Wildcats to a 7-6 record that season, including a 45-42 victory over No. 4 Texas. Kansas State earned a berth in the inaugural Texas Bowl, making its first postseason appearance since 2003.
In 2007, under Franklin's guidance, K-State offense becomes first team in history to feature a 3,000-yard passer, 1,500-yard receiver, and 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. Franklin mentored quarterback Josh Freeman to numerous school records. Freeman threw for 3,353 yards, including 122 completions to All-America receiver Jordy Nelson. Freeman was selected in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft (17th overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is currently their starting signal caller, while Nelson is a key receiver for the 2011 Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.
2005 Assistant Coach, Wide Receivers, Green Bay Packers Assisting Head Coach Mike Sherman, Franklin served as the Packers' wide receiver coach in 2005, mentoring a strong arsenal that included Donald Driver, Javon Walker and Robert Ferguson catching passes from legendary quarterback Brett Favre.
Despite losing Walker to an injury early that season, the Packers still posted the sixth-most receiving yards in the NFL that season. Driver established then-career highs with 86 receptions for 1,221 receiving yards, becoming just the fourth Packers player with 85 receptions in a season.
2000-04 Assistant Coach, Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator, University of Maryland After being hired by Ron Vanderlinden prior to the 2000 season, Franklin continued on with Maryland when Ralph Friedgen accepted the post that November.
The Terrapins would earn three consecutive postseason berths from 2001 to 2003, including an appearance in the 2002 FedEx Orange Bowl, and post at least 10 victories in each of the three seasons. The Terps followed the Orange Bowl berth with a 30-3 victory over Tennessee in 2002 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, and a 41-7 win over West Virginia in 2003 Toyota Gator Bowl. Prior to Franklin's tenure under Friedgen, Maryland had made just one bowl appearance in the previous 15 years. In Friedgen's 10-year career that ended when Franklin came to Vanderbilt, the Terps made seven bowl appearances.
In 2003, Franklin was promoted to be Maryland's recruiting coordinator and delivered back-to-back recruiting classes that were ranked among the nation's Top 25 by prominent recruiting outlets. He was named a Top 25 recruiter by Rivals.com in both 2003 and 2004.
1999 Assistant Coach, Wide Receivers, Idaho State University Franklin was the wide receivers coach at Idaho State under Head Coach Larry Lewis, helping the Bengals' offense rank ninth nationally in total offense.
1998 Graduate Assistant Coach, Tight Ends, Washington State University Franklin's first coaching job at a BCS conference school came in 1998 at Washington State as the graduate assistant in charge of tight ends under Head Coach Mike Price.
1997 Assistant Coach, Wide Receivers, James Madison Head Coach Alex Wood hired Franklin to mentor the wide receivers at James Madison in 1997. Junior receiver Earnest Payton would finish his career as the school's leader in receptions with 185.
1996 Graduate Assistant Coach, Secondary, East Stroudsburg Franklin returned to his alma mater, Division II East Stroudsburg, to assist his collegiate head coach, legendary Denny Douds. Franklin helped lead the Warriors to a 6-4 record, including a win.
1995 Assistant Coach, Wide Receivers, Kutztown University Franklin helped lead the Golden Bears to a 6-4 record and a third-place finish in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. He coached Darrien Peoples, who is fifth all-time at Kutztown in receptions (134), and Justin Bordlemay, who is fifth all-time in touchdown catches (16).
NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program Franklin has been involved in the NFL's Minority Coaching Fellowship Program since a 1998 internship with Miami. While assisting the Dolphins, Franklin worked with NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino. Franklin also gained valuable experience through stints with Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999 and Minnesota Vikings in 2008.
Franklin was a four-year letterwinner at quarterback for East Stroudsburg University from 1991 to 1994. He was a two-time All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference selection. As a senior he garnered team MVP honors and was a Harlon Hill Trophy nominee for NCAA Division II Player of the Year after setting seven school records, including single-season marks for total offense (3,128), passing yards (2,586) and TD passes (19).
Quotes on Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin:
"I love how he leads. I love how he's kind of got a chip on his shoulder, and you need that a little bit when you coach at a place like Vanderbilt where it's a challenge to compete at a high level for so long in the SEC." - Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN College GameDay co-host & announcer
"James Franklin worked for me at the Green Bay Packers. I noticed early on that he always saw the big picture. He didn't just coach his players on the field, but saw the need for them to be accountable off the field as well. He took an interest in every aspect of their lives and coached not just the player, but the person."
"Coach Franklin is a great hire for Vanderbilt University. He will fall in line with the value system of the university as to what they expect from their athletes in all areas, as well as being totally committed to winning football games. I have no doubt he will have great success in Nashville." - Mike Sherman, former Head Coach for Green Bay Packers and Texas A&M
"Coach Franklin and I worked together at Kansas State back in 2006. He is a first class coach, and a perfect fit for a university like Vanderbilt. He's a tremendous motivator of men, and inspires character in each of his players. He works really hard to be the best that he can be as a coach, and has the toughness to build up a program in the SEC. He will no doubt be a great representative of Vanderbilt University." - Raheem Morris, Head Coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
"Coach Franklin is a terrific fit for Vanderbilt...an over achiever who maximizes every opportunity. He will bring with him a relentless work ethic and a staff that does the same. Working hard and working smart are his trademarks, along with expectations of academic excellence." - Debbie Yow, Director of Athletics, North Carolina State, formerly AD at Maryland
"I've had the chance to work closely with Coach Franklin and I can't say enough good things about his approach, his work ethic, his passion for the game and his ability to teach the game. He's a tireless recruiter and one of those coaches who can get the most out of his players and is excellent at making and maintaining relationships. He would be a great fit with Vanderbilt and an asset to the campus and football program both." - Darrell Bevell, Offensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks
"Coach Franklin has a lot of energy, a lot of passion for the game, and obviously knew what he was doing. He cared about his players and was a great family guy. He was intense, but yet had fun and like I said, he had his passion for the game, his love for the game and a love for his players, and he cares about his players like family. I think he'll do a great job and I think Vanderbilt will be pleased with the guy they got." - Jordy Nelson, Wide Receiver, Green Bay Packers, 2009 graduate of Kansas State University
"James did a very good job for us while he was here. I'm very happy that he's gotten an opportunity to be a head coach. We wish him nothing but the best of luck at Vanderbilt." - Ralph Friedgen, Former Head Coach, University of Maryland
"The hiring of Coach Franklin represents a new day for Vanderbilt football. He has my full support and commitment that we will help him create an environment where the successes on the field equal the university's extraordinary successes off the field. Coach Franklin will have an immediate and positive impact on our students, alumni, faculty, staff and broader Vanderbilt community, and I welcome him to Vanderbilt." - Nicholas Zeppos, Vanderbilt University Chancellor
"Coach has meant so much to me, both on and off the field. One of the best things that ever happened to me was getting to work with Coach Franklin."
"I was very raw, and needed development in really every area. Coach taught me proper footwork, how to better understand pass routes and schemes, just how to play the position. Truly, to this day, my fundamental foundation as a quarterback came from the time with him." - Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay QB; former Kansas State QB