September 22, 2012
Overall Record: 52-18-2
Last 10 Meetings: 9-1
Richt vs. Vanderbilt: 10-1
It was Grantham who was the aggressor while Franklin stood by... a choir boy. That was the story that was told by the media, most of whom were in the press box, not on the field after the game. So the script was that Grantham, who had proved how crazy he was in the past, was the bad guy – Franklin was given a pass.
Then Franklin refused to shake hands with Derek Dooley after the Vols beat Vandy in overtime. On top of that, a radio station in Knoxville reported that Franklin shouted an obscenity towards the Tennessee student section as he exited Neyland Stadium.
Then Franklin added to his growing legacy by getting into it with a recruit's father about if Vanderbilt is being honest with prospects.
"Our recruiting philosophy is and always will be that we'll be transparent," Franklin told the Tennessean. "We'll be open, we'll be honest and we will build relationships and sell Vanderbilt."
Ira Mathers, who son I'Tavious Mathers was being recruited by the Commodores disagreed. Mathers wound up signing with Ole Miss.
"Vanderbilt never told us they were looking at other running backs," Mathers said. "Other colleges that would talk to us told us up front who else they were recruiting."
But Franklin showed real class when dealing with Tucker defensive end prospect Josh Dawson. Dawson had been committed to Vanderbilt until Signing Day, but then signed with Georgia
When asked about Dawson and other players not signing with Vanderbilt Franklin said those that decommitted were "not men of honor" and "not men of integrity."
Sure, Grantham is crazy… that's been established, but he's not a head coach in the SEC – the most visible face at the most academically-centered institution in the league. Grantham is not the one calling out recruits and getting into post-game fracases twice in a month.
That, after all, is James Franklin. Franklin has proven he can get a ton out of the talent he's got at Vanderbilt. But he's not proven (like most every Vanderbilt coach since the 1950s) that he can win at a level at which Vanderbilt can be taken seriously as a threat to reach Atlanta.
Vandy has the ability to play with teams (see its game with Georgia, Arkansas and Florida). It just hasn't proven that it can beat them yet. And that's the entire point of keeping score – to see who wins.
If Franklin can get beyond his toddler-like behavior Vanderbilt could surprise some folks over the next few years. But grown men don't change… they are what they are.
Vanderbilt player to watch:
It took five games in 2011 before Vanderbilt coach James Franklin figured out Zac Stacy needed to become a focal point on offense. After receiving only 40 carries in the Commodores early portion of the schedule, Stacy was suddenly given more opportunities in October. He finished with 201 attempts, averaging 5.9 yards per rush and scoring a team-leading 14 touchdowns. He had games where he rushed for 169, 198, 128, 135 and 184 yards, showing both a consistent approach and big-play ability. A native of Centreville, Ala., Stacy's efforts helped Vanderbilt finish ranked as the seventh-best rushing offense in the SEC – ahead of both Florida and Tennessee.
What the Dawgs must do:
Blast Vanderbilt off the face of the Earth… let them know from the start that this game is revenge for the way James Franklin acted at the end of the game last season. I get the feeling Georgia will be motivated for this game the way they were for the Mississippi State game in 2011 – the Dawgs took no prisoners that afternoon.
Inside the numbers:
Alabama and LSU got the headlines for the best run defenses in the SEC, but Vanderbilt wasn't too shabby. The Commodores checked in fourth in rushing defense last season by allowing only 130.5 rushing yards per games.
Virtually None. The Dawgs wanted Tucker's Josh Dawson last year, and took him on Signing Day. Franklin, in his usual gentlemanly manner, made a spectacle of it. Vanderbilt must be proud.
Last year's prediction: Playing in Nashville can be a challenge from time to time. But Georgia needs to assert itself before the half. A ten-point lead by the half should be enough for Vandy to roll over and die like they so often do.
It was challenging all right, but it shouldn't have been. With the performance in Nashville, Georgia showed how they can lose focus in games. It almost cost them, but Drew Butler saved the day with a tackle. When your punter is saving the day something went a little sideways.