Franklin press conference video, quotes, photos
Dec. 17, 2010
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Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin
First I want to tell you a little bit about the process that goes into this and what went through this. Right off the bat, we heard, between the Chancellor and I, 250-300 e-mails. We tried to answer all of them. Some of them weren't worth answering, but we did the best we could. We basically said, `we understood and we'd fix it.' We didn't promise that we would go out and recreate Woody Hayes and bring him back as the coach, but we said we'd get a good coach. And we'd refocus our efforts at this university as it relates to football.
So over the last 21 days, we've been in that process. I think the most important thing that I want to start by saying is to recognize that it has been a total team effort. It's been a tough 21 days, but a lot of people were involved. Right off the bat I want to first thank my wife Gail and my son Nick because they had to put up with 21 days of getting up on the middle of the night, catching flights at all times. My wife had the pleasure of sharing a bedroom with me and three cell phones that went off at all times of the night. My son, I had to miss his soccer games, all because we were in the business of trying to find a good head coach.
We moved from that to developing a list, or book really, of 60 candidates. There were a lot of people who were involved with that. I want to thank people from my staff, Patricia, Steve, Rod, Brock, Candice, Lori and Kevin, who worked tirelessly and met daily to go over the list of those 60 people. To try to find out things about them nobody else knows so we could find that perfect fit. So many of you in the media so much reminded me and the chancellor that we had never hired a big-time coach and so we didn't know what we were doing, so we went out and hired and executive firm. We hired Parker Executive Firm. So I want to thank the folks on my staff and Parker Executive who kept us on track and helped us get in the doors we might not have been able to get in.
We reviewed those 60 candidates and we narrowed it down to about four or five. I do want to say one thing, there were some on that 60 that wouldn't take our phone calls in the beginning. Many of those came back within the last week with a change of heart and wanted to talk to us after they had said no. They realized along the way that we really, really were serious about this commitment. We got about four or five that we decided to bring to campus for interviews. We brought them in and I want to thank a number of our trustees: Bill Wilson, Jack Moore, Edith Johnson, Michael Ainslie and John Ingram who spent three days interviewing them. I also want to thank a couple of our faculty: Lou and Richard, and my fellow vice chancellors: Brett, Jerry, Susie, Matthew, Beth, Richard and Jeff. All of these people interviewed those candidates. This is important because this goes to the team effort and the commitment this university is making towards football. We wanted total buy in.
Also want to thank Kevin Stallings and Tim Corbin. We did a video that they were in that basically talked to these candidates about how important it is to be a coach at Vanderbilt and how you can win at Vanderbilt.
Also want to thank Lee, Ruth Ann and JoAnn. Lee and Ruth Ann from Nick's office and JoAnn from my office. We were going on all sorts of flights, changing flights, going all over the country, hotels in and out, meeting people in strange places and they were the ones who handled the logistics on it.
I want to thank the people in Creative Services because they did a great brochure under the leadership of Beth Fortune and with assistance from Rod Williamson, and a fabulous video that I think convinced people that we were really serious.
We've gone through all of that, it's been interesting, I'm not sure fun is the word you'd use in this but I think we started off with a plan, we stuck with our plan, we worked the process as we outlined it. I want to thank the people in the media, especially those who made sure that before they ran any stories that weren't true, they checked with us. We tried to be as honest as we could.
Finally, I want to thank one person who really, without his effort and his involvement, this would not have happened. When we got ready to start this, I went and talked to our chancellor and I said, `We're getting ready to start our search.' Nick asked me, `What role do you want me to play? Do you want me to just interview the final candidate, do you want me to just bring two people?' I said, `Nick, the history of Vanderbilt football suggests that we need to sell this program. And we need you every step of the way.' He said, `whenever you need, whatever you want, whenever you want, I'll be there.' You all need to know his commitment to this; he was at every interview, everywhere I went, he went. He basically devoted 21 days to not only running this university, but also helping us find a head coach. If you don't believe that makes a difference, you need to go out and ask some other places. There's almost no place where the chancellor or president would be that involved in this search. Not only was he an active participant, but he was a true partner in this.
I think there's nobody better and more appropriate to introduce to you our new head coach than our chancellor, Nicholas Zeppos.
David mentioned that so many people were involved because we are deeply committed. The vice chancellors, the trustees, so many people from the start to the end and I am very excited. I'm very, very, very excited about James Franklin coming to Vanderbilt. It is a new day for Vanderbilt Football.
I have been very active in this search for a number of reasons. I think that hiring the best people at Vanderbilt is the most important thing we do. It's a gorgeous campus [when] you walk across it but the thing that makes us great is the people that work here. I also am very proud of what we do nationally and internationally. We're one of the greatest universities in the world, one of the greatest institutions in the world. We play in the best athletic conference in the country and we play football in the best athletic conference in the country. I tell that as a Big Ten graduate. We play in the best football country probably in the country and I don't just mean college football. This is the highlight of college sports. So I've been very involved in this decision. Like I said I've met with every candidate, I asked them questions, I talked to them about this great university and the potential. Because that's what a great university is about, bringing in people and the potential to develop excellence and greatness.
We win everywhere at Vanderbilt. We win athletically, we win academically and there is no darn reason we can't win in football and we are going to do it. We are going to do it. I've been here for 24 years; I've seen some great games. I watched us beat South Carolina with John Travolta sitting next to me, one of my highlights, and we're going to keep that momentum and build on that into the future. I told Coach Franklin that he has my full support. If I need to be pulling the tire with him, if I need to be running with the parachute on my back, if I need to be with the kids lifting weights, I'm all in and Vanderbilt is all in.
Let me say a few things about this unusually gifted leader, our next coach. When we started this process we sat in this room. We said all right what are the qualities we're really looking for in this next important leader at Vanderbilt. We care about the success on the field but what should we really be looking for in this next coach. We actually had a list. Here's what we're looking for, we want first of all someone who identifies and develops talent, someone who can connect to families and youngsters and bring them here saying you're really good but I can turn you into a better individual, a better athlete. We wanted somebody with passion. We wanted somebody that works hard. We all work very hard at this university to make it what it is. Passion and hard work really count for a lot. I'm not the last person to turn my lights off at this place at night; there are many people who stay later. And I will tell you, James will... well you'll probably have the lights off because you're watching film. We looked for strength of character, integrity. We win the right way. That was very, very important to us. And to say we can be best in football and best in academics, it can be done. Drawing on the unique resources and the unique traditions of this great university, we can be successful. At the end of the discussion I remember saying I want a leader who is a coach. I don't want a coach who is a leader. We have here a leader who is a great coach.
He jumped out to me and others in the search process. He's been an assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterback coach at Maryland; he has developed fine young men into great careers in professional sports and the broader community. He has an excellent resume that includes some professional coaching as well. He spent a little time in my favorite city of Green Bay, where I grew up a couple of hours north. And we didn't think of indoor facilities back then. It was too much fun to sit outside. He will be a coach who will lead us on the field, he will lead us off the field, he will be a leader in the community in Nashville and nationally. So with great pleasure I am very honored to introduce James Franklin, his wife Fumi, those two lovely daughters Ava and Addison to Vanderbilt and to Nashville. They are going to be great members of the Nashville community and Vanderbilt community. I present to you the next football coach at Vanderbilt, James Franklin.