Dec. 2, 2011
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by Jim Patterson, Vanderbilt News Service
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - James Franklin, whose Commodores have already tripled the number of victories they had in each of the past two seasons, has agreed to a new contract extending his term and raising his salary as Vanderbilt University's head football coach.
"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," said David Williams, vice chancellor for university affairs and athletics, general counsel and secretary of the university.
Franklin, a former assistant at Maryland, was hired by Vanderbilt in December 2010. In his first regular season, he has led the Commodores to six victories, making them bowl-eligible.
"We are rewarding coach Franklin not only for what he has brought here, but what he is going to bring here in the future," Williams said.
Vanderbilt will also build a multi-purpose indoor facility and systematically improve Vanderbilt Stadium with new turf, lighting, JumboTron, press box upgrades and other amenities.
Details of Franklin's new contract were not released. The upgrades will be paid for by the university and donors, with a lead donor already identified for the multi-purpose facility, which will include a full-length football field surrounded by a running track. The multi-purpose facility will benefit football players and other Vanderbilt athletes such as Vanderbilt's Southeastern Conference champion women's cross country team, Williams said.
Other improvements on tap include a coach's locker room, theater classroom, locker rooms for the Olympic sports teams and expansion of dining facilities, Williams said.
Franklin praised the Vanderbilt administration for its commitment, and challenged Vanderbilt fans to follow through by quickly selling out Vanderbilt's bowl game, which was set to be announced Dec. 4.
"We will truly be as good as we decide to be," Franklin said. "By no means ... have we arrived. We have made positive steps in the right direction, but there is a lot more work to do."
Williams said he anticipates bringing the facility improvements to the Vanderbilt Board of Trust for its consideration its April meeting, and he hopes all will be complete by the launch of the 2014 football season, and perhaps before that.
Facility Improvements Scheduled to be Completed Before 2012 Football Season:
Football Coaches' Locker Room
New Theater-Style Classroom
New Meeting Rooms
New Locker Rooms for Olympic Sports Teams
Facility Improvements Scheduled to be Completed in Coming Years:
Multi-Purpose Building to be used by all sports (120 yard field with track that circles field)
JumboTron in Vanderbilt Stadium
Vanderbilt Stadium Lights
Vanderbilt Stadium Turf
Vice Chancellor David Williams
"Last year about this time, we came in front of you and everybody else and basically said that Vanderbilt, after accomplishing a lot of other things athletically, realized we needed to up our commitment to football. And we guaranteed and promised you all that we would do just that.
The first part of that, as we said then, was to hire a great coach. Not only somebody who would be a good football coach, would be a great part of this community, and internally would be a CEO of a football program. We didn't announce to you at the time a lot of the other things we had planned to do because it was very important that we had on board that person that could help us define what it takes to be successful.
We made a commitment at that point in time and we believe that we've moved forward on that commitment. But today, we are proud to announce some other things to that.
First and foremost, 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'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.
Second, I'd like to talk for a moment about plans that are going forward. Already we had on the table a phasing in of work on this building, in McGugin. Phase two of that will begin immediately, and that was already planned. As it relates to football, there are some things in there: a renovated coaches' locker room, a brand new theater-style classroom which will seat 141 people, some new locker rooms for Olympic sports, and some media rooms for that. That work will begin immediately and will be done prior to the beginning of the next football season.
By the time next football season starts, we will have some renovations done in the stadium. Over the next two years, you'll see a new jumbotron in there, you'll see new turf, and you'll see new lighting throughout Dudley Field. We will also start the process of looking at all other things in the stadium, including seating, including the press box, concessions and bathrooms. We will take a strategic approach to basically transforming our stadium.
And finally, things that you all have wondered about and talked about: will there be an indoor practice facility at Vanderbilt, and the answer is yes. We have already begun the work to identify the space and to identify a plan. It would be an all-purpose, all-event center. It will benefit not only our football team, but also some of our other teams. It will have a track around a 120-yard football field with artificial turf. It will benefit the whole university community. It will be an extension of our rec center and will have availability for a lot of other things. That project will begin as soon as we can finish the drawings and the plans and take it for approval to the board, which will probably be in April. We have guaranteed that that will be available no later than the 2014 football season. We will work very hard to make it happen earlier.
We believe this signals our commitment to making Vanderbilt excellent in everything it does. We think we have some very good sports, we think we've proven that. We understood and we heard that we were not doing what we should do in football. We started with bringing in a great coach. We are thrilled with the progress our coach has made, and we are thankful for the fact that coach has helped us and taught us to move forward even faster than we thought we could move."
Head Coach James Franklin
"I want to start by talking about how proud I am of the progress we've made in 11 months. I'm really proud of the team, 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.
I would like to talk about some of the accomplishments because I want to make sure we're all on the same page, and I talk about this with our players, I talk about this with our staff, but I want to make sure looking back at this season, and this season isn't over, everybody understands some of the accomplishments that we've made.
We've tripled our win total for each of the last two years with six wins. We're ready to get number seven. We had a 4-0 record in non-conference, non-SEC games and that's the first time that's happened in many years. The two November wins, the first time since 1995. This was only the 13th season since 1946 where we scored more points than our opponents. Our offense scored 323 points during the season, the most since 1948.
The Vanderbilt defense improved dramatically if you look at the statistics. Total defense, we went from 95th to 19th. Rushing defense from 99 to 25. Scoring defense from 92 to 29. Pass defense from 78 to 34. Interceptions from 89 to 6th in the country. Dramatic changes there, and our staff, led by Coach (Bob) Shoop, did a tremendous job there.
Recruiting is going extremely well, I'll leave it at that...extremely well, and I really look forward to Signing Day and being able to get together with everybody again and talk about the progress we're making in that area as well. I think you guys have known for 11 months since I've been on campus how important that is to me. I think that's one of the biggest keys to success.
I think one of the things I'm most proud of is our nine seniors. They got a chance to be part of the first group of seniors to ever have gone to multiple bowl games in their career. And they've been unbelievable ever since Chris Marve picked us up at the airport, so really proud of those guys.
Keys to our success and to future success, obviously starts with our administration. Chancellor Zeppos and Vice Chancellor Williams, everybody asked me about when I took the job, why did I take the job? I took the job because of those two men and their leadership and they've been unbelievably supportive from the day we arrived on campus.
Our coaching staff, and most importantly our players, they trusted the process. You guys have heard me talk constantly about our process, and how we do things. We have a very simple yet distinct process of how we have success both on and off the field. That's communication, that's trust. I think that's the most important thing that we were able to do, was gain our players' trust as quickly as possible, and from that point, once you have trust, you can move forward. I think our kids believed in us, I think our coaching staff did an unbelievable job at building relationships. We talked about living in the present. I think I drove you guys crazy with that in the media all year long, not talking about the future, living in the present and maximizing the day that we're in. We talk about carpe diem.
Controlling the controllables. Not talking about the things in the past. Everybody wanted to talk about the past; everybody wanted to talk about the things we weren't yet comfortable talking about, but controlling the things that we could control. Instilling our core values, which is a positive attitude, having a great work ethic, compete in everything you do, and you must be willing to sacrifice something. They've been our four core values.
I'd also like to mention why Vanderbilt. When I got here, everybody wanted to talk about why not. Why not Vanderbilt? They wanted to tell me all the reasons why this was such a difficult job. I had a very hard time getting anybody to listen to what we were going to do and what our plans were. They wanted to constantly talk about the past and their scars and their experiences they had at those stadiums. I'm going to tell you why Vanderbilt.
You have an opportunity to come to a university and get a world-class degree, which as we all understand, that's what it's all about, and Vanderbilt can provide that like very few schools across this country. The second factor is the SEC. I take a lot of pride in coaching in this conference. Young men and people have an opportunity to get a world-class education and play in the greatest football conference in America. So if you're the best and the brightest, where else would you go? To me, that's a no-brainer.
The third factor is we have Nashville. I'm a big believer that your education is more than what you learn in a classroom. It's a combination of all the cultural experiences that you can have, and Nashville provides that. The fourth thing is early playing time. We have great kids, we have great players, we have some really good players in our program. We just don't have enough of them. Early playing time is another thing we can provide.
This is really not about James Franklin, this is really not about David Williams, this is really not about Chancellor Zeppos; no disrespect to any of us. This is about Vanderbilt University. This is about our players. And we will truly be as good as we decide to be. We're not going to allow anybody to define who and what we will be, but this is about the university and maximizing our opportunity here, and just like I tell our players all the time, we will be as good as they decide to be.
I have a challenge that I will make, because this is not just the coaching staff and the administration and the players. This is the whole community. I challenge you to come out and sell the bowl game out. I don't know where we're going, we're going to have a celebration Sunday and we'll announce that and everybody will be excited about it, but I want us to sell the bowl game out.
Not only do I want to sell the bowl game out, I want to sell it out faster than it's ever been sold out before. I don't want to hear about the excuses, I don't want to hear about why it's difficult. I want the entire community, I want our students, I want our fans, and I want our alumni to come like they've never come before. I know we graduate and we move all over the world. Then fly in from France, fly in from Germany, fly in from Spain, fly in from New York, wherever you are and support your `Dores."
On the new contract
James Franklin: "Really, our discussions were about what is best for our program, all the different things we felt we needed to take this program where it needed to be. Are there some things in there for me and my family? There's no doubt about that. The whole discussions about this were what we need to do to be able to put a product on the field on a consistent basis that was going to be competitive, that would close some of the gaps."
On what the facilities will cost:
David Williams: "Whatever it costs."
JF: "I like that answer, that's a good answer."
On the turf choice:
DW: "We accepted the fact that we ourselves had certain limitations and that's why we wanted a CEO of football. We will sit down with James and James will help us in that determination of what kind of turf. I don't want to say if it's going to be Turf A or Turf B, what I'm saying is that we will have turf on there. James has asked that we have turf, that's going to happen, but we need to sit down with him and make a determination of what's best for this team."
On why commitment to program took so long:
DW: "I'm going to take a page out of my coach's book: Why do you want to talk about the past? 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.
2014 close enough?
JF: "I think what's important, as we all know, there's a lot of things that have to happen on campus. Our discussions and my discussions with David is that we are going to break ground as soon as we possibly can and we are going to get it done as soon as we possibly can. Obviously from a coaching perspective, I want everything done yesterday, just like David does, just like the fans do. But there's a lot of different variables that go into that that we have to make sure are out of the way. Once they're done, we're going to get it up as soon as possible.