"Welcome everybody, thanks for being here today. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the offensive staff that we've put together and some of the administrative staff as well. We couldn't be more excited about the direction the program is going and the guys that we've been able to assemble here.
I'd like to start first and talk about our philosophy of putting this staff together and I think the most important thing is I want to surround myself with as many really, really intelligent guys that have a great foundation and knowledge of the game. These are the guys that we've been able to find and feel really good about. The other thing that I think was important to me was getting guys that are really passionate about coming to Vanderbilt, and who want to be here and want to be a part of the staff we're putting together and part of my vision. That was very important to me. Guys that I have history with, guys that I know extremely well that I've been to battle with, that I know how they're going to react in adverse situations. Some of these guys I've known for 10-15 years and I feel really good about them. That's our philosophy. We think we have a chance to do something extremely special here with the administrative support we're getting. These are the young men we've been able to bring here."
On John Donovan... "The first guy I'd like to talk about is our offensive coordinator, John Donovan. John is a guy that I've known for probably 12-15 years. He was with Coach Friedgen at Maryland, actually started with him at Georgia Tech. He is a Johns Hopkins grad, extremely intelligent. He took over the play-calling duties in the bowl game after I left, and obviously I wasn't missed very much since they scored 51 points in that game and John did a tremendous job.
He's going to be working with our running backs. Since he took over the running backs at Maryland, all kinds of success, all kinds of honors. He is a very knowledgeable, very hard working coach who I think is going to represent us very well. I couldn't be happier to have John."
On Charles Bankins... "Next is Charles Bankins. Again, Charles and me worked together at Maryland. He will be our special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. Charles has coached at every level. He was at Richmond when they won the national championship; we were at Maryland together in the last couple years. He has also coached in the NFL. The other thing, and I think Charles epitomizes this, these are great mentors for the young men on our team.
Charles is going to be a tremendous recruiter for us, a tremendous role model and has great experience. I couldn't be happier for Charles to be here. What he's going to be doing on our staff, developing the tight ends and running the special teams. A lot of coaches give special teams lip service. That won't be the case here. Offense, special teams, defense, everything is going to get the same type of emphasis, and really probably special teams might get more of an emphasis. If guys want to tap out, they're going to tap out of offense and defense, not special teams. That'll be an emphasis, that'll be a big reason why we win here. There's no one else I would want coordinating our special teams than Charles Bankins."
On Ricky Rahne... "Ricky Rahne, he's another really smart guy, Ricky played quarterback at Cornell. I had an opportunity to hire Ricky as a graduate assistant at Kansas State, and it was clearly obvious right away that he was one of my most valued staff members when I was there. He sees the big picture, really gets it. Playing the position, he'll be coaching our quarterbacks. I think it's important that you've been under fire before. You know what it's like to put your hands under center, to have the linebackers staring at you and about to chase you all over the field. I think it's important that you've been through those experiences. We ended up hiring Ricky full time the next year and then after I left, Coach Snyder, who I have tremendous respect for, ended up keeping Ricky on after that.
Ricky is one of those guys, like a lot of the guys on our staff, that really made me feel good about what we're doing here and my vision for the program. Ricky is a guy that I called and offered a job to. I said `look, I got the job at Vanderbilt and I couldn't be more excited to go, are you coming with me?' and Ricky said `when do you want me there?' and I said `yesterday.' He didn't ask what he was being paid, he didn't ask what he was coaching, he was just really excited about the opportunity to be here. That's what's important to me, surrounding myself with as many guys that are really smart and who have a passion for being here at Vanderbilt and have the same vision that I have for what this place can be."
On Herb Hand... I know in the write-ups it probably says that Herb has been retained, but we talked about that and he has not been retained, he has been hired, just like everybody else on the staff. We want to make sure that's very clear. What I think happens a lot of times with offensive line coaches is they have tunnel vision about seven yards of the field and they only deal with the offensive line. With Herb's background of being an offensive coordinator, he's coached on defense and has been a defensive coordinator in the past, and has coached all over the country, it was very obvious to us as a staff when we stat down as a staff with Herb that he was going to be very valuable to us. He has done an outstanding job with recruiting. When I got here and saw the young men that he had been recruiting for our offensive line I was impressed with that.
Herb's a guy that is very intelligent and doesn't mind speaking his opinion, which is important to me. I don't want a bunch of `yes men.' I want guys who are going to speak their mind, give their opinion, and that's what I'm going to expect from all of these guys. He is very knowledgeable about the position and it was very obvious to me when I was calling recruits that Herb returning to this program was very important to them as well. I couldn't be happier about having Herb join the staff."
On Chris Beatty... "Chris Beatty is from West Virginia. He is considered one of the top recruiters in the country. He really made a name for himself as a very successful high school coach in Virginia; he won a bunch of state championships. He coached a guy by the name of Percy Harvin. He made a name for himself there. He went on as an offensive coordinator and moved up the ranks extremely fast. I have a unique experience with Chris because I consider myself a pretty good recruiter, and Chris and I would go head-to-head on a lot of kids in the Virginia, Maryland, D.C. area and he was very successful.
All of these men, including Chris, we've been talking about working together for years. We've been talking about being on the same staff and hopefully I'd have an opportunity to hire these guys one day. It was very obvious, from a recruiting standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, that I wanted Chris Beatty to be a part of our staff."
On Dwight Galt... "Kind of interesting, Dwight Galt had been at Maryland for 26 years. He was one of the most respected coaches in Maryland history. Dwight graduated from Maryland, his two sons played at Maryland, nobody thought that I could get Dwight Galt to come to Vanderbilt. Really it only took a three-minute conversation and my excitement for this place that he wanted to be a part of it. There are a lot of people that made it very difficult for Dwight to decide to come here, they tried to convince him that he should stay. I think it's been very obvious since Dwight got here, guys have showed up to work out. There was one guy that showed up to work out voluntarily with Coach Galt over break, just showed up on his own. The word got out and there were three guys. The word got out and there were seven guys. I think the other day there were 31 guys who showed up just to work out with Coach Galt over break on their own. That's the type of enthusiasm he's going to bring to our staff.
I think the strength coach is probably one of the most important hires. He's the guy that's going to spend the most time with your team than anybody. Instilling discipline, instilling toughness and then obviously really maximizing our players potential in terms of athletic ability. Getting them as strong and as fast as you possibly can and really that's going to be our focus. We want to be the fastest team in the SEC from the top to the bottom. When you talk about speed, a lot of people focus on the receivers and the DB's and we're talking about every position from top to bottom. I think Coach Galt is going to do an unbelievable job. I think you're going to see a dramatic difference in our team right away based on what he's been able to provide for us."
On Jemal Griffin... "Jemal Griffin is going to be our chief of staff. Jemal was our director of football operations at Maryland. Basically we had one person in an administrative role that kind of ran the whole show. When speaking to the administration here and Vice Chancellor Williams about what I thought we needed to be successful here, one of the biggest things was support staff. We were able to retain the director of football operations, Michael Hazel, and we were able to retain the assistant director of football operations, Andy Frank, and we were able to create a position that we'll call the chief of staff. Basically he's going to be my right-hand man. I've known him for a very long time. He came to Maryland and did an unbelievable job for us. I couldn't be happier to get Jemal here. In an administrative role, he knows exactly what I want, he's got familiarity with me and a bunch of the other coaches on the staff and he's going to really be able to bridge the gap this next year and we're transitioning here at Vanderbilt."
"I think we're really laying the foundation right now with the offensive staff, the administrative staff, the strength coach, to put together what my focus is on, the best staff in the country. When I say that, I'm talking about people that are passionate about being at Vanderbilt, guys that are extremely intelligent from a football knowledge standpoint, guys that are going to represent themselves very well in this community and towards our players. I couldn't be more excited about the direction this is going. Watching the guys interact with each other these last couple of weeks has been really good. In recruiting, everybody is hungry and I think we have a staff that people are going to look back at five to 10 years from now and say `wow, what an unbelievable staff that James Franklin and the Vanderbilt program were able to put together.'"