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Commentary by Joe Biddle: Many openings- One James Franklin

Sooner or later, James Franklin will have to make a decision.

I think it will be sooner rather than later.

Franklin is a victim of his own success. What he has accomplished at Vanderbilt makes him a highly viable candidate for other coaching jobs. In his third season, Franklin has enviable credentials that would make him a worthy candidate for top 20 jobs. 

Franklin’s name has already been linked to the Southern Cal vacancy. If Texas loses its Red River Rivalry game Saturday against Oklahoma, it’s almost a certainty Mack Brown will not be their coach this time next year.

It’s a must win for Brown’s future. His record in the last 43 games is 25-19 and over the past four seasons he is only 13-15 in the Big 12.

The college coaching carousel has already started and the season isn’t half-way over. 

It used to be a college football coach would be allowed to complete the current season, despite the fact everyone from restaurant valet parking runners to concession stand employees knew the coach was dead man walking after the final game.

Coaches now are not guaranteed to see the end of the season.

Southern Cal Athletics Director Pat Haden fired Lane Kiffin on the spot after the Trojans were embarrassed by Arizona State, 62-41. It forced Haden to make a move.

Kiffin was informed of his fate when the charter plane landed in Los Angeles. Most Trojans fans were either asleep or just getting in from pulling an all-nighter on the town.

Since then at least two other college coaches have been terminated. Miami of Ohio’s Don Treadwell was fired a day after the Redhawks lost to Central Michigan. His 0-5 record explained all you need to know. In three years Treadwell was 8-21.

Connecticut parted ways with veteran Paul Pasqualoni, firing him after his team started 0-4, with a 41-12 loss to Buffalo and a 33-18 loss to D1-AA Towson.

The Texas job is viewed as a top three job in the profession. Southern Cal is a top 10-15 job. James Franklin’s name has been already mentioned for the Southern Cal vacancy. Provided Brown is out at Texas, Franklin’s name will be in the mix.

Franklin is deeply indebted to Vanderbilt Athletics Director David Williams and the school for giving him his first head-coaching job. He currently making an estimated $3 million-plus a year, has a long-term contract and a hefty buyout penalty if he goes to another school.

At some point, Franklin has to decide if he wants to beat his head against the wall 24/7 just to keep Vanderbilt competitive in the SEC, or take his talents to a Texas or USC, where a coach has everything he needs to be successful.

Franklin is currently a “hot’’ coach. He will be in high demand as long as Vanderbilt continues to win and go to bowl games.

Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was a “hot’’ coach his first two years after being hired from Florida, where he was offensive coordinator. Mullen had chances to leave State, but his record has cooled off and his name is not even mentioned now.

Mullen is 2-3, beating Alcorn State and Troy. He started 7-0 last season, then lost five of the last six games, including a 41-24 loss to rival Ole Miss.

Franklin will say all the right things, but he knows he will have only one shot at getting a Texas or Southern Cal job.    

Sport Columnist Joe Biddle is a four-time sports writer of the year in Tennessee and a 2013 inductee to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame. He can be reached at


Posted on: 10/10/2013


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