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James Franklin tweaks ‘Nicky Satan’ during high school visit

Tennessee v Vanderbilt Getty Images

Since coming to Vanderbilt as head coach in December of 2010, James Franklin has never been shy in voicing an opinion, whether it be in regards to an opposing defensive coordinator or an opposing head coach or how the hotness of a coach’s wife correlates to recruiting success.

Now, the loquacious coach has taken to tweaking the tail of the biggest tiger in the best conference in college football.

Speaking at a Georgia high school’s fall sports banquet, Franklin decided to use a common message-board colloquialism for the three-time BCS title-winning head coach at Alabama during his address.

“There’s this guy at Alabama, I think his name is Nicky Satan. You guys have probably heard of him before,” Franklin said in a video clip posted to the website of WMAZ-TV.

“I’m gonna outwork him, I’m gonna outwork him.  And that’s kind of our plan every single day,” Franklin added before dropping to his knees to mock the vertically-challenged Nick Saban*.

(*No, not really, but would you have been surprised?)

Here’s the video from WMAZ, with the pertinent portion beginning just a few seconds in:


Thanks to Vandy being situated in the SEC East and “Bama in the West, the Commodores and Tide have only faced each other once during Franklin’s two seasons in Nashville; in October of 2011, Lucifer’s Tide whitewashed Franklin’s ‘Dores 34-0 in Tuscaloosa.

In fact, the only place that Franklin and Beelzebub will go head-to-head for the foreseeable future, thanks to an expanded SEC sticking to eight conference games, is on the recruiting trail.  During Franklin’s two-plus years at the school, Vandy’s recruiting rankings have gone from 70th in 2011 to 29th in 2012 to 20th in‘s current team rankings for the Class of 2013.  Alabama’s during that same stretch?  First, first and third.

Outwork a recruiting workaholic?  Good luck, Coach Franklin.

UPDATED 5:04 p.m. ET: Well, that was fun while it lasted.

Shortly after the video of James Franklin referring to Nick Saban as “Nick Satan” went viral, the Vandy head coach got in touch with his Alabama counterpart and personally apologized to him.  From The Tennessean:

“Obviously, tremendous respect for Coach Saban,” Franklin said. “I just got off the phone with him. Tremendous respect for them. I’ve got tremendous respect for what they’ve done. Everybody is chasing them. The guy has won three or four national championships.

“(I was) really talking about the work ethic that he has a reputation for, and that we’re going to outwork them. I made a joke. And in today’s society with all the media and social media and people with tape recorders and things like that, that doesn’t come off that way. I know people have tremendous pride in Alabama, and their fans are fanatical. So I understand. But it was a joke and I didn’t mean to offend anybody.”

Franklin added that Saban said he has “a lot of respect for what you guys are doing up there at Vanderbilt.”

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31 Responses to “James Franklin tweaks ‘Nicky Satan’ during high school visit”
  1. scalpemseminoles says: Jan 30, 2013 3:56 PM

    i used to like this guy until i saw his coaches poll results. he needs to shut his damn mouth. he reminds me of lane kiffin: always talking about something

  2. slartibartfast4242 says: Jan 30, 2013 4:26 PM

    He was definitely high on something when he submitted that Coaches poll. He needs to stop hooting his own horn and let his field of work speak for itself. How about beating Saban, or for that matter Richt, Muschamp, Miles et al in the recruiting trail for a couple of recruits first. Then we’ll think about buying your “outwork” rhetoric.

  3. Deb says: Jan 30, 2013 4:56 PM

    Oops … I clicked over thinking this was about James Franco, the actor. Who is James Franklin again?

  4. dee6634 says: Jan 30, 2013 4:56 PM

    His poll vote you are speaking of turned out correct.

    You two must either be Trash fans for from the big 10.

  5. bamasleeper13 says: Jan 30, 2013 5:08 PM

    WOW, Franklin I don’t think I would mock Saban until you can outdo him. Good Luck!

  6. vols84 says: Jan 30, 2013 5:21 PM

    9 win season at Vandy will do that to a man.

  7. dhlions says: Jan 30, 2013 5:40 PM

    Franklin will never be able to “outdo” Saban because he coaches at VANDERBILT. The overwhelming majority of CF players can’t (academically) get into Vanderbilt, so he could be the Michael Schumacher of coaching and it will never materialize [at Vanderbilt].

  8. cometkazie says: Jan 30, 2013 5:59 PM

    Gerry diNardo was successful at Vandy, too.

    What’s he doing for a living now?

    Notre Dame, I forgot.

  9. guinsrule says: Jan 30, 2013 6:02 PM

    -Insult given
    -Insult publicized
    -Insult retracted
    Mission accomplished

  10. iowahbr says: Jan 30, 2013 6:18 PM

    College coaching is about recruiting. If the NCAA made a rule requiring a certain % of athletes in each sport to graduate or you lose scholarships no one in today’s college biz could have the records that these top guys are setting.
    Maybe Bama is way ahead of the NCAA average in the number of football players who get a degree in 4 or 5 years but I would guess not.

  11. Deb says: Jan 30, 2013 6:28 PM

    @iowahbr …

    Alabama graduates more than 70 percent of its football players and 100 percent of its players in some sports, such as gymnastics, where the school has also had championship teams. Considering the number of players Bama sends to the pros and that you cannot hogtie players in any program and force them to forgo multimillion dollar salaries just to satisfiy the arbitrary requirements of guys who have no concern for their welfare but are just trying to take cheapshots on a blog, I don’t think any supervising body will require more than 70 percent of players to graduate.

  12. Woody Bass says: Jan 30, 2013 6:52 PM

    Soooo Bama will be putting a 70 spot on Vandy now I’m guessing.

  13. bigdinla says: Jan 30, 2013 7:05 PM

    Everybody needs to give this as much attention as Saban probably did and that is none. Franklin is just trying to generate buzz about Vandy and he succeeded. I am not a fan of these theatrics, but it is no different than what Spurrier did all off season.

  14. normtide says: Jan 30, 2013 7:43 PM

    I see no big deal here. Franklin’s job is pretty tough, he has to shake things up. He knew he would apologize afterward before he even said it.

  15. grikes says: Jan 30, 2013 7:57 PM

    January 30th and Vanderbilt is in the national college football headlines. Well played, coach. Well played.

  16. iowahbr says: Jan 30, 2013 8:53 PM

    To DEB

    Sanctimonious answer from the school that regularly offers more scholarships than they have to fill the red shirt ranks. If the NFL needs training leagues Bama and several other fill that role and Harvard isn’t that worried. This is about what’s best for the students, not for the porkpie hat crowd. If Bama beats the NCAA average graduation rate of all FBS schools I stand corrected.

  17. surly1n1nd1anapol1s says: Jan 30, 2013 10:05 PM

    So he takes one day off following the season end? Tough to outwork Saban.

  18. irishdodger says: Jan 30, 2013 10:27 PM

    I recently read where Vandy just gained a commitment for a top JUCO player. When did Vandy start giving schollies to JUCOs? Maybe they always have but I assumed the tougher academic institutions like Stanford, Northwestern, ND & Vandy don’t give schollies to JuCOS.

    Franklin needs to reel it in. He had a nice season by Vandy standards, but were any of their wins over teams w/ a winning record in the regular season? Plus, they lost to two B1G teams.

  19. dhlions says: Jan 30, 2013 10:31 PM


    You’re right. I like my 7-11 attendants to have communications degrees.

  20. Deb says: Jan 30, 2013 10:41 PM

    iowahbr says:

    To DEB

    Sanctimonious answer from the school that regularly offers more scholarships than they have to fill the red shirt ranks. If the NFL needs training leagues Bama and several other fill that role and Harvard isn’t that worried. This is about what’s best for the students, not for the porkpie hat crowd.

    I never can figure out why these twits always shout my name in all-caps. I’m not deaf.

    Did Alabama answer you? I’m an individual, not a school. I don’t work for or speak for Alabama. And though I’m a lifelong fan, I happen to be a Missouri grad. Nothing I post on this football blog is an answer from Alabama.

    Apparently this is news to you, but yes, in fact, the NCAA is the farm system for the NFL. My, your perception is staggering. And yes, this is about what’s best for the students–which means preparing them for their futures. Some students receive academic scholarships to prepare them for the future based on their academic prowess. Some receive athletic scholarships to prepare them for the future based on their athletic prowess. We don’t throw out the academic students because they fail to meet the athletic standard running the 40. Why would we prevent the athletes from achieving their goals because they don’t meet the same academic standard as an honor grad.

    Again, you kids have no interest in what’s best for the students. You’re simply pissed that the SEC has won seven consecutive championships so you’re deflecting. It’s okay … we’re used to the whining.

  21. floridacock says: Jan 31, 2013 7:12 AM


    What Deb said……and everyone knows red shirts count against scholarship quotas.

  22. hor2012 says: Jan 31, 2013 9:54 AM

    This isn’t that big of a deal. He just got a chance to start recuriting earlier than other teams. Vandy is in the news and recurits are reading the story. Nothing to see hear.

  23. thegamecocker says: Jan 31, 2013 11:23 AM


    You know I respect your opinion and I know college football & basketball have evolved to being “Big Business”. But reacting to your comment that “Some (students) receive athletic scholarships to prepare them for their future based on their athletic prowess”. I’m wondering if this system is truly short-changing the kids that fall into that category? Are we saying that earning a college degree is no longer worth the effort? That learning a play book is as important as Learning about History of Western Civilization, or basic accounting? I cannot site statistics but my judgement is the vast majority of college athletes do not make it to the next level. Furthermore I saw an episode on “30-30” recently showing many of these high-profile athletes who were successful at the pro level, are now broke. I opine that if these players would have earned a degree, perhaps they would have managed their assets differently. This is certainly not directed at Alabama or any school for that matter. This is an issue that troubles me because it affects our society as so many athletes are role models. I could go on-and-on but “War and Peace” has already been published. :)

  24. iowahbr says: Jan 31, 2013 11:34 AM

    You are absolutely right but it isn’t Bama alone. We pay the Iowa coach 3,500,000 per year and it escapes me what he does with that here in Iowa. Yes I know about the competition argument that we pay him or he goes elsewhere but 3.5 for him or 5 for Mr. Saban when the players just get tuition, books, and room and board seems out of whack to me. 95% of them aren’t headed for the NFL and I hope that 70% of them do get a degree or at least learn something in college beyond Power right on 2.

  25. thegamecocker says: Jan 31, 2013 12:44 PM


    While my post was addressing the overall need to seek a degree by everyone who attends college, you raise an interesting point which also deserves exploring. The highest paid government official of many states is the head football coach. This too diminishes what the true intent is of gaining a higher education. But I’m of the belief that train has left the stattion and there is no turning back. The next item on the agenda is compensating players beyond tuition, room, and board. I’m on the fence with that one. However, let’s remember this: not every college football program is in the black. Many are indeed losing money and are funded by increased student tuition.
    If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.

  26. Deb says: Jan 31, 2013 1:19 PM

    Now that we’re being reasonable and discussing college football as a whole–rather than pretending this is an Alabama or SEC issue–here’s my view:

    Some kids lack the intellectual skills to pursue college degrees. They could, however, become highly successful professional athletes. Should we, as a society, deny those kids the opportunity to rise above their circumstances simply because the only road to the NFL runs through the NCAA? No.

    If kids have extraordinary athletic ability but don’t necessarily meet the academic standard for college, they should still get an opportunity to play. In those cases, it’s more important they be taught money management and other skills that will help them succeed in life than it is to ensure they get a useless degree just to keep them on the team. Schools profit tremendously from these kids. Those who are capable of earning a degree should get that opportunity. But those who aren’t shouldn’t lose the chance to pursue their NFL dreams because of some snobbish view that only the intellectually gifted belong on a college football team.

  27. gatorprof says: Jan 31, 2013 1:36 PM

    Yawn… Another stupid coach writing checks with this mouth that his performance cannot cash.

  28. iowahbr says: Jan 31, 2013 1:37 PM

    to Deb

    This line opens the biggest question of all: why have some school athletic departments become a road to the NFL or the NBA and others have not. No doubt college sports are a big business but that doesn’t resolve the answer as to why some in the administration of the sports become millionaires while many on the field as participants can’t even get a degree.

  29. Deb says: Jan 31, 2013 2:44 PM

    @iowahbr …

    Can’t address anything related to the NBA because I don’t follow the sport. The NFL has approximately 1900 players. Each year, around 300 rookie prospects are invited to the Combine and 200-250 are drafted. As in any limited job market, the spots go to the best of the best. That’s why they command such high salaries.

    Obviously the powerhouse NCAA Div I schools will send more players to the NFL than the less successful schools–although there are success stories from the ranks of the FBS, undrafted free agents, etc. This is one reason I’m okay with oversigning. It gives players a chance at making the Alabama team. Otherwise, they’d just end up at a JUCO. It’s a shot to prove themselves on the field with a team that can get them to the pros.

    Except in the rarest circumstances, players aren’t getting to the NFL except through the NCAA. And if they don’t make the NFL, perhaps they can make the UFL, AFL, or CFL. What’s the alternative? Without an athletic scholarship and that shot at going pro–no matter how long a shot it is–a kid like Dez Bryant or Ray Lewis would never make it out of his hometown. Even if he doesn’t get a degree or make a team and winds up going back to a menial job after college, at least he had a chance to make something more of his life.

    I also think college players should receive some kind of compensation–particularly if their individual popularity is being used to sell merchandise. They should get a percentage of those profits. That way those who lose out on the pros–like Alabama’s Tyrone Prothro, whose career was ended by injury–could profit from continued sales of DVDs, etc.

  30. iowahbr says: Jan 31, 2013 2:56 PM

    Everything you say is true but it still doesn’t justify all the money spent on coaches and administrators. Before you bring up the free competition issue you own as much of the University of Alabama as does Mr. Saban and there is no free enterprise argument in that neither of us could start a college with taxpayer funding and call is Bama Jr. even if we could field a better football team. The NCAA needs to do much more to protect the athletes on the field and do much less to make the cushions that most college coaches and administrators sit on even softer.

  31. Deb says: Jan 31, 2013 3:05 PM

    As long as the coaches’ salaries are commensurate with the revenue they generate for the schools, I’m okay with their income. But I absolutely agree that both the NCAA and the NFL should do more to protect the athletes and try to ensure they make the most of their opportunities and have the most successful post-college lives possible.

    I’ve long been advocating for all kinds of life-skills training, better safety equipment, and better preparation for handling the business side of being a professional athlete. In fairness, however, both the NCAA and the NFL provide a lot of this training for students and incoming rookies. You can only hold an athlete’s hand so far.

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