As if a posting on a Facebook wall wasn’t enough, Vanderbilt made the hiring of James Franklin official the old-fashioned way — they held a press conference and sent out a press release.
The now-former Maryland offensive coordinator was officially introduced Friday afternoon as the 27th head coach in the school’s history, as well as becoming “the first minority head coach to lead the Vanderbilt football program.” The 38-year-old Franklin — who becomes the second-youngest head coach in the SEC behind Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen — will replace Robbie Caldwell, who stepped down last month after one year on the job.
“Improving our football program is a high priority at Vanderbilt and the first step in the process was to identify just the right person to lead us,” vice chancellor of athletics David Williams said. “Our search was national and we talked to many, many candidates and experts in the college football arena. One name that quickly rose to the top of our list was James Franklin. We are thrilled that he has agreed to become our head coach.”
Franklin has spent the past three seasons as Maryland’s offensive coordinator, including the last two as the designated head coach-in-waiting. Raheem Morris, who attempted to hire Franklin away from the Terrapins when he became the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was effusive in his praise of Franklin in a statement included in Vandy’s release.
“He is a first class coach, and a perfect fit for a university like Vanderbilt. He’s a tremendous motivator of men, and inspires character in each of his players. He works really hard to be the best that he can be as a coach, and has the toughness to build up a program in the SEC. He will no doubt be a great representative of Vanderbilt University.”
In addition to two separate stints at Maryland, he’s also coached at Washington State and Kansas State, as well as spending one year as wide receivers coach for the Green Bay Packers.
With Franklin’s hiring, there are now four Div. 1-A football programs still in search of a head coach: Ball State, Kent State, Temple and Miami of Ohio. That’s until the Michigan job opens up after the Wolverines’ bowl game, of course.