After signing day last week, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin told a group of Commodore backers that those players who decommitted from Vandy were “not men of honor” and “not men of integrity.” He did not mention anyone by name, but most assumed that he was referring to defensive end Josh Dawson who decided on the eve of signing day to stay in his home state and attend Georgia rather than VU.
As a result of his words, Franklin took some heat. Now, he’s backtracking a bit… and blaming the media (of course):
“First of all, it really wasn’t written the way it was delivered. I think the biggest thing is when a kid commits to Vanderbilt, I go into great detail and make sure they understand what they’re doing – that they understand ‘commitment’ and ‘what commitment means.’ That I’d say if five other schools come in and offer you, would you change your mind? We make sure everybody is on the same page: the kid, the parents, and the high school coach. We explain it in real detail. I would just rather a kid not commit to us than commit and not be completely sure what he’s going to do. When you lose a kid, it hurts your heart. You feel bad, like all college coaches do, because you feel like your institution is the best possible place for that kid. So when you lose them, it hurts.
I think I probably would’ve worded some things differently [that I said that day]. And I think it would’ve probably been reported a little differently than it was intended. But it is what it is. I have great respect for all the young men that committed to us. I have great respect for some of the men that changed their minds and went in another direction. They thought it was in the best interest for them and their family. But it hurts when you lose a guy when you’ve been recruiting him for a year.”
So Franklin wishes he’d said things differently. And clearly he still thinks those players who decommitted from Vandy don’t understand “what commitment means.”
Then how exactly is any of this the fault of Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean who initially tweeted the coach’s exact words? Franklin tries to blame the press for not putting his words in context but he admits he chose the words poorly and that the context — turns out — looks pretty dead-on correct.
Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked several coaches about Franklin’s “not men of honor” comments and Vandy’s coach didn’t get a lot of support. Especially from new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora who lost quarterback Patton Robinette to Franklin at the last possible moment (Robinette actually left orientation at UNC to sign with Vandy):
“What does [Franklin] say about the kids that were committed elsewhere and de-committed from their places to go to his place? That’s my comment. What is his comment on those people? He’s got someone in his recruiting class that did that very thing. He’s saying those guys are not men of honor? Basically, he’s saying he has got kids in his own recruiting class that are not men of honor. He said that, and I didn’t.”
We pointed out as much last week when writing of Franklin’s clear double-standard. The AJC asked the coach if he saw his stance as being a double-standard:
“I think you get frustrated, and you get upset because kids commit to you. But you’re exactly right. It was like the year before, when we got in here at the last minute and only had a month left for recruiting, we got kids to de-commit to us. I think that’s a very, very valid point.”
At least he admits that his comments post-signing day were out of line. And in this instance he doesn’t try to blame the evil press for twisting his words.