James Franklin Has Changed Vanderbilt, But Still Has Some Work To Do

In his first season as Vanderbilt head coach, James Franklin has accomplished much more than many, which includes everyone, thought he would.  Though the Commodores are just 5-5, they have one more conference win than the 2009 and 2010 seasons combined, and they’re playing a non-awful brand of football, beating bad teams and playing competitively in the majority of their games.

And the rest of the conference has taken notice.  The Internet and print media are abuzz with stories and declarations of Franklin’s fine work, saying that for the first time in a long time Vanderbilt football feels like it belongs in the SEC.  While I won’t dispute those claims, as I am now following a team whose only legitimate claim to stay in the conference is that we are charter members, let’s take a look at what Franklin has accomplished and what he still needs to accomplish in order for Vanderbilt football to truly feel like a member of the SEC.

To date, a list of Vanderbilt’s SEC growth moments under Franklin’s watch:

  • Thrashing of conference weaklings Ole Miss and Kentucky
  • A chance to finish tied for third in the SEC East
  • A near brawl at the end of a game, highlighted by Franklin’s readiness to fight Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham
  • Terrible late-game officiating ruining an upset attempt of a bigger school (Florida; and welcome to the club!)
  • A player charged with felony counts of burglary and robbery 
  • Said player suspended due to crimes against the state of Tennessee

While an impressive start, Franklin’s team still has some work to do if it wants to be considered one of the boys.  Still in need of accomplishment are:

  • Beating Tennessee
  • Achieve 50% stadium capacity with own fans
  • .500 record in conference play
  • Get to a bowl game
  • Win a bowl game
  • Bowl game jersey-selling scandal (must get to bowl game)
  • Academic scandal involving tutors writing papers
  • Academic scandal involving grade changing
  • Academic scandal involving private study courses that count for 15 hours of credit (Am I right, Auburn sociology?)
  • Book-selling scandal
  • Bar fight
  • Club fight
  • Street fight
  • Movie theater fight
  • Student union fight
  • Dorm fight
  • Off-campus apartment fight (latest arrest may qualify since fighting did take place)
  • Parking lot fight
  • Library fight
  • Gas station fight
  • Strip club fight
  • Secondary recruiting violation
  • Additional 100 secondary recruiting violations (don’t worry, they don’t really count)
  • Major recruiting violation
  • Lack of institutional control
  • Failure to monitor the program
  • Head coach served with subpoena
  • Public recruiting rankings comparison
  • Off-campus party with multiple arrests
  • Scooter crash resulting in an injury
  • DUI
  • DWI
  • Biking while hammered drunk
  • Public drunk
  • Firing a weapon in public (AK-47s are the only way to roll, right Florida?)
  • Robbery of a place of business
  • High-paying, low-work summer jobs for players
  • Dozens upon dozens of suspensions for violations of team rules

And I think that about covers it.  I’m sure I missed a few, but there are still plenty of items to cross of the list.  Good luck to Coach Franklin and Vanderbilt as they try to take that next step he’s always talking about.

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