The benefits of coaching stability

I think we can all agree to forget about the Music City Bowl for a little while and instead concentrate on the best piece of news to come out of Vanderbilt Stadium this year: James Franklin is not going anywhere.

As pointed out on this site a few weeks ago Franklin would have been unwise to jump the Commodores ship this year. The job openings just weren't there for a coach who is building something legitimate at Vanderbilt. Sure the Auburn and Tennessee jobs might be attractive, but the one thing that Vanderbilt offers that those programs do not is job stability. Heck, you can apparently win a National Championship at Auburn and then be fired three years later.

With no "wow" opening out there Franklin was always likely to stay. It says everything about the stock of the SEC when a coach who has taken his Big Ten school to the Rose Bowl for the last three years (Brett Bielema at Wisconsin) is willing to move to an Arkansas job which is a total rebuilding project. Simply put Franklin is at the best school, in the best conference, and in the best situation to increase his stock further and only leave Vandy (if ever) when a truly top tier gig becomes open.

This was absolutely the smart play by athletic director David Williams. From a public relations perspective the timing of the announcement that Franklin was signed to a long term and big money deal was perfect. Both Vanderbilt University and Williams knew that Franklin was being touted and looked at for a number of the open jobs on the market. Using this to their advantage the announcement shows how committed Franklin is to the school AND (most importantly) how committed Vanderbilt is to football.

If Williams and Franklin have their way the benefits of this coaching stability will be nothing short of monumental. Already the Commodores have seen improvements to the stadium and facilities, but that really could be the tip of the iceberg if Vandy can keep Franklin in town. As part of this second extension in two years there are going to be locker room upgrades and there is going to be a serious look at what can be done to increase the capacity of Vanderbilt Stadium. At just a 40,350 capacity this is the smallest stadium in the SEC and with loft goals which include competing for an SEC Title, you feel there is already a plan in the works. Excitingly there have been mentions of Stanford (a school whose model is perfect for the Commodores) who built a new stadium to house the revamped football program.

Most importantly the new contract has provisions for raises within the coaching staff. As good as Franklin is it is imperative that he is able to keep together (and even add to) the coaching staff as he sees fit. Success within the program makes every Vandy assistant a candidate for head coaching and coordinator positions around the country. By increasing the money available for these huge contributors it is hoped that they will be kept in town keeping the Commodore machine running smoothly from one season to the next.

"This really is about our kids and our players," said Franklin. "I made a promise to them, and we made a promise to them as a staff, that they could come to Vanderbilt and chase all their dreams, their wildest dreams, at the highest level.

"This is about continuing to make progress, continuing to take steps in the right direction, so we can build a program for the long haul that people can be very, very proud of."

I have a sneaky feeling Franklin will find a way to make every Vanderbilt fan prouder than ever before his black and gold days are done.

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