Franklin calls Commodores' fans too quiet, passive

Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:23pm

James Franklin has played the role of salesman since he took over the Vanderbilt program less than two years ago.

And he’s starting to get more and more buyers. Saturday’s game against Auburn will mark Vanderbilt’s first back-to-back sellouts since 1996.

Now Franklin wants to teach. The second-year coach says he wants to educate the Commodore fan base about when to get loud and rowdy in order to create a hostile environment.

After Saturday’s 31-17 loss to No. 4 Florida — the first sellout (capacity of 40,350) at Vanderbilt Stadium since 2008 — Franklin thanked the fans for showing up. But he said the atmosphere “could be better.”

On Monday, at his weekly press conference, Franklin didn’t back down from his comments.

“I’m not calling anybody out,” he said. “I’m educating, and I’m very appreciative of the fans, how they’ve been behind us since we’ve been here. But I want more. Just like they want more from me and our team, I want more from them.

“… The students, we need them. We have our challenges — only 6,800 [undergraduate] students here. Twenty percent of our students showing up is not the same as 20 percent of 50,000 like some of these other schools have. So we have our challenges and it's much better, but it can get better.”

For starters, he said the fans should be in their seats 45 minutes before kickoff to create a “buzz” early in the game. He also wants the noise to be deafening when opposing teams line up for a third down or is backed up in its own end zone.

“Third down, we need a homefield advantage like we face when we go into other teams’ stadiums,” he said. “Third down — the place is going crazy. Not one person sitting down. Not one person with their mouth closed. I don’t care if you’re 95. I don’t care if you’re four. You’re screaming like crazy for the ’Dores.”

Vanderbilt gives every SEC school an allotment of 6,000 tickets. Florida took only 4,176 while Auburn didn’t return any tickets.

The Commodores (2-4, 1-3 SEC) and Tigers (1-5, 0-4) last met in 2008. With ESPN’s College GameDay on campus, a crowd of 38,773 packed Vanderbilt Stadium to watch the Commodes upset No. 13 Auburn.

“We just want a hostile environment with the fans,” defensive end Johnell Thomas said. “Anybody that plays the game knows that fans play a huge role in the momentum shift of a game. When you hear the crowd and you hear everybody pumped up it gets us pumped up and ready to go as well. I think that’s huge for us.”

• Third toughest: According to Sagarin’s College Football Ratings, Vanderbilt’s strength of schedule is the third toughest in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

Only Missouri and Washington had a tougher first-half of the season, while Auburn ranked fourth.

The Commodores played three ranked opponents, all in the top 10 at time, including then-No. 5 Georgia and fourth-ranked Florida. The Gators are now ranked third in the Associated Press writers poll and are second in the first BCS rankings that came out Sunday night.

Vanderbilt’s first five FBS opponents have a combined record of 26-7. The four losses have been to teams with a combined record of 23-3 (Florida, Georgia, Northwestern and South Carolina).

“We played really good people. We’ve been competitive every week, except, you can make the argument maybe once [in a 48-3 loss to Georgia],” Franklin said. “… I went over that with my team [Sunday], ‘Let’s keep that in perspective guys. We’re doing some nice things. We need to get better.’ We lost to a good team last week but for us to get where we want to be as a program you can’t make the type of mistakes that we made against that type of an opponent.”

• Game time: Vanderbilt’s homecoming game against Massachusetts on Oct. 27 will kick off at 6 p.m. and will be aired on Fox Sports Net (Channel 28).

18 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 10/15/12 at 3:08

He makes a good point. However over the last 60 years everytime the crowd has gotten a little nit raucous the Vanderbilt opponent has stuck it up the fans and Vandy teams behind.

The fans in most SEC games at Dudley field were predominately made up of fans from the other team.

By: Bellevue on 10/15/12 at 4:43

I have never liked paranoid control freaks of which Franklin is one.

For all of the positive adjectives that can be bestowed on him, just as many negative ones also apply.

Kind of reminds me of Kevin Stallings.

By: Rasputin72 on 10/15/12 at 4:50

My goodness, the very thought of James Franklin becoming a Kevin Stallings makes me want to re-hire Watson Brown

By: courier37027 on 10/15/12 at 4:58

Coach Franklin, years ago most Vanderbilt fans left by halftime--when game was pretty much decided. Take it as a compliment when your fans stick around for second half.

By: David_S on 10/15/12 at 8:01

I appreciate what you're trying to do here, Coach Franklin. But maybe I should educate YOU on something. Like what you said after the Florida game:
"We did not adjust well to the quarterback running game,'' Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. ''That's on me. It will get fixed.''

After the game is over, it is too late to adjust to the quarterback running game. DURING the game is when you're going to want to make that adjustment. Like at half-time, right after their quarterback scored their first touchdown of the game.

This is the problem Vandy faces. It's not the losses, we've learned to deal with that. It's the having to watch some of the smartest football players in the FBS commit stupid penalties, have complete mental lapses, or fail to maintain discipline. Why don't you focus on THOSE problems, coach, and maybe the crowd will come to you.

By: Rasputin72 on 10/15/12 at 8:31

Oh David, I wish I had said that. The best comment today on any subject.

By: bobyounts@comca... on 10/16/12 at 7:31

Mr. Franklin,

The Vanderbilt fans are better at their job than you are at yours. Quit bellyaching, and go ahead and resign like all Vanderbilt coaches.

By: bruingeek on 10/16/12 at 7:34

It is a rich tradition at Vanderbilt to show up during the second quarter. I just don't remember if that tradition is for the fans or for the team :)

By: royt5 on 10/16/12 at 9:11

Cmon Guys, Give the coach a break. He is doing very well in this his 2nd season. I have noticed in my days that most of the people that complain the most, couldn't stand up to that kind of scrutiny if it happened to them in their jobs. But it seems you're are always going to have them. Just saying!

By: wiseguy1 on 10/16/12 at 9:18

You clowns are awfully reactionary. Take Franklin's suggestion at face value ... come to the stadium and run your mouth versus doing in online. He didn't tell you what to say, just show up a game and say it .. say it LOUD.

By: wiseguy1 on 10/16/12 at 10:08

Now that I'm past reflex response. David, and others ... If you appreciated what Coach Franklin is trying to do, I believe your post would be radically different.

Apparently status quo is comfortable ... want the team to win to give you reason to come and support. Lemme give you & Rasp (sour puss) and others a primer. The man is trying to build a culture and atmosphere ... and you are not helping. Ever heard of multitasking? There is no time to wait for the fans to 'come around' after the 'team comes around'. Rewind to Northwestern game a few weeks ago ... were the stands full of NU students, alums and locals? I didn't see 'em on TV. NU has been winning more than losing pretty consistently the last 4 or 5 years. What is the metric for number of wins for VU fans (locals & alums) to get out and support? 6? 7? for two years, three years? Face it, the demographic of most VU fans is considerably different than other SEC schools. Not too many, shall we say good ole boys, in the VU alumni roll. Bud Light is most likely not the beverage of choice at pre-game activities. I would call the traditional VU fan a more cautious crowd. Franklin wants Nashville are attendance for a great atmosphere AND competative team. One does not have to be a James Franklin fan to be a VU football fan. I love the US of A but am not am Obama fan. VU culture has been not to get attached to a coach as they are merely temporary. Raspy's 60 years of VU football renaissance has taught us that.

Back to the breakdown ... recruits would rather play in front a rowdy crowd than one that claps politely as if attending a polo match. A rowdy crowd makes is much easier to recruit the kid on the fence that is weighing his options. Game day atmosphere is one of those tangible things that helps Franklin on the recruiting trail.

Sure Franklin has some (lots) teaching to do ... meaning teaching players good football versus follow your instincts. Case in point, UF ball 4th quarter, VU just scored to close within 7 points. Driskle 70 yd run made possible by Defensive End losing containment. DE took the 'big play' bait to tackle running back behind the line versus doing his job being as deep as the deepest man in the backfield ... that kind of teaching. Best case scenario, DE gets big play tackle for loss; worst case, he turns the play inside for pursuit to tackle ball carrier for loss or short gain.

Don't be cautious, break the VU footabll renaissance rules ... guzzle the kool-aid with gusto.

By: fightcrib on 10/16/12 at 11:21

Well, I don't know about all that, but LSU fans are drunk.

Fightcrib, BNA

By: wiseguy1 on 10/16/12 at 12:01

fightcrib ... I think living in proximity of New Orleans mandates being tipsy to outright blind drunk. Booze in New Orleans is as much a part of daily life as coffee, milk or oj for 'normal' folks. They take coffee with Bailey's or Kaluah, milk with scotch and oj with vodka. Of course tomato juice is high on their morning routine too.

Been to a game in Knoxville? The few I went to was a frat party with 90 some thousand. The booze ... aka big orange aid ... flowing freely. That was in early 80's, hope it is different now.

By: fightcrib on 10/16/12 at 1:46

Kentucky basketball fans are crazy. they light houses on fire when their team loses.

By: fightcrib on 10/16/12 at 1:47

3 men walk into a bar: a Kentucky fan, an LSU fan, and a Raider fan.

The bartender says, "this town gen too ruff for me."

By: wiseguy1 on 10/16/12 at 2:07

Shame UK fans don't light their own house on fire. That concept would fit the UK fans in my area. If you look close, you can see the scar where the 6th digit was removed.

By: joe41 on 10/17/12 at 8:02

I am there yelling as loud as I can. It is the student body that isn't there. Most fans are there early, just out in Vandyville. Joe

By: 4gold on 10/17/12 at 8:28

UK fans have to drink. All they have is a farm club as they have exited the NCAA for the sake of winning and have no football program.LSU fans instigated the worst scene ever in VU stadium. Some LSU drunk snuck in with a glass beer bottle, broke it at some point and slashed a VU fan in the neck. I was in opposite corner but with binoculars could see blood on the seats as the crowd split in two directions. I dont need those kind of fans. But I have never understood how people can wait until the game starts to move to the stadium. I could not stand missing kick off. If you scan VU stands and then the state school stands. There is a decided age difference. VU fans are a decidedly older group. State schools get the young and dumb.

God forbid Franklin want the same envioroment for his team that other SEC teams enjoy. This is freindly Nashville. We invite Steelers, Red Wings, and all comers to its SEC venue to take over and we thank them for their money. We have no civic pride. Our local media man Mark Howard is on air saying support anyone you want. You dont need to support local sports. An interesting view since local sports is supporting his sizable bread basket.
Go Dores, Preds, Titans! Go Nashville a great place to live!