After an 8-4 regular season, Vanderbilt head football coach James Franklin's name has been mentioned in association with almost every major job opening in the country, but specifically with each of the three current SEC openings at Arkansas, Tennessee and Auburn. How serious a candidate Franklin is for each job might depend solely on Vanderbilt's next move.
When contacted for comment on Tuesday while recruiting in Memphis, Franklin declined to discuss any matter specific to SEC openings or his future at Vanderbilt. Sources close to the program indicated that while Franklin is in heavy demand at the moment, there have been indications that Franklin and his staff want to stay with the Commodores in 2013.
After a 6-6 season in 2011, Vandy A.D. David Williams modified Franklin's initial contract to add more salary and more years, but terms of the deal weren't disclosed publicly due to Vanderbilt's status as a private institution.
Regardless of the bump following last season, there's virtually no argument against handing out raises to Franklin and his staff again - through just under two years on the job, the former Maryland offensive coordinator has brought in a nationally ranked signing class in 2012 and is on track for another (currently ranked No. 17 by Rivals). Franklin also pushed the administration to renovate the team locker room, advance expansion plans for facilities for all sports and secured those consecutive bowl berths, something that hasn't happened in Nashville since polio was cured.
What Vanderbilt might struggle to give Franklin is a competitive edge off the field. Much has been made about the disadvantages VU's admissions standards give the football program in recruiting, although Franklin has publicly downplayed that perception multiple times. Vanderbilt's stadium is the league's smallest at just over 40,000, but Williams oversaw an offseason renovation before the 2012 season that included the addition of a new jumbotron and lighting.
While Williams has made multiple public comments indicating a commitment towards the ongoing renovation of facilities, one major factor for Franklin could very well be fan support. Throughout his two years the head coach has routinely praised opposing teams' fans for their numbers and enthusiasm, both on the road and at home. Vanderbilt failed to sell out its 2012 home opener on August 30 against South Carolina, a nationally televised game.
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