College football is a cold, cruel world to athletes. If a school recruits you and signs you only to learn that your upside really isn’t as good as they initially thought… you’re adios’ed so fast your head spins.
Ah, but if you do all that you can for the school, find yourself unhappy, and want to transfer out… good luck getting clearance to do so.
That’s the lay of the land in this, the year of our Lord two-thousand-and-twelve. And it’s the same all over. Even at Vanderbilt.
Wait, what? Even at Vanderbilt?
If there were any doubts that James Franklin is turning around the Commodores program, this next wee bit of controversy should put them to rest.
Following the Liberty Bowl, senior tight end Brandon Barden tweeted the following message:
“If you go to Vandy now, you seriously sign a ONE year scholarship #dirtygame #gladtomoveon”
Sour grapes from one disgruntled player in serious need of some gruntling? Maybe. But Franklin also told The Tennessean yesterday that a number of redshirt juniors have decided not to return for their senior years.
“A lot of guys walked for Senior Day and a large number of those guys decided (not to return),” Franklin said. “That’s not based on our decision, but guys graduating and guys who haven’t been playing or not playing a significant role who are going to go get jobs or may go play at smaller schools.”
More players leaving means more spots are open on the VU roster. And that means Franklin can better cash in on the positivity created during his first season in Nashville which ended with a 6-7 record and a bowl trip.
But like every other football coach on the face of the planet, Franklin is shocked by the suggestion that he might have encouraged some of his players to look elsewhere.
“I would put our record of what we’ve done this year and what our athletic department and university have done for a long time against anybody. Most new coaches come in and there’s all kinds of new turnover in the program. I find (Barden’s twee) really interesting.
When you have 105 guys on a team and you’ve just suffered a tough loss, here’s going to be some things said. There are decisions made where guys don’t know the whole story behind it. It’s like I told the team, I have no problem with them coming in and talking to me and I’ll explain it to them.”
Our take? Franklin has Vandy in a position where it can act like other big-time football programs. And if a coach — any coach — can run off a few guys to open up more slots on signing day, he’s going to do it.
That doesn’t make it right, of course. But Franklin’s not doing anything at VU that isn’t being done elsewhere. The surprising part is that he’s got Vandy in this position after just one season.