James Franklin’s first five days on the job as Vanderbilt’s football coach have been filled with everything.
He has been busy with hiring a coaching staff, calling recruits, meeting with players, getting out into the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities and learning plenty of new names and new faces.
Franklin, however, has slacked in one particular department.
“I haven’t done a whole lot of Christmas shopping. I can tell you that much,” he said laughing. “The lack of sleep has started to build up a little bit and the excitement and newness of it has started to wear off. (Monday) night I just kind of sat down and thought about the big picture and everything I really thought about before accepting the job. I’m more focused and I am more excited than ever. You get to that point where it is time to stop shaking hands and kissing babies and let’s get to work.”
Franklin has hit the ground running since being named the Commodores’ 27th football coach on Friday.
He has been reading up on and reaching out to several of Vanderbilt's current recruiting commitments. He talked to several before the recruiting dead period began on Monday and runs through Jan. 3.
National signing day is Feb. 2. So Franklin is short on time but doesn’t see that as a negative.
“That has gone well. Everything is a positive. I’m an optimist,” Franklin said. “I think it is a really good situation. It gave me an opportunity to come in, get a feel, study the organization, study our personnel. However, the situation would have worked out to me it would be a positive because that is how I view life.”
He is also in the middle of compiling a coaching staff. Franklin said he will announce his assistant coaches at a press conference “as soon as possible.”
He is searching the country for his coaches and has a “core group of guys” in mind – those he has coached with or even some he has coached against and come familiar with.
Ricky Rahne resigned as Kansas State’s tight ends coach on Monday. He coached with Franklin, who was K-State’s offensive coordinator from 2006-07. Franklin declined to confirm Rahne as a staff member but Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said Rahne will be the Commodores' quarterbacks coach.
“He is a guy I have a tremendous relationship with, known for a long time. Brilliant,” Franklin said. “What I am trying to do is surround myself with as many talented people as I possibly can and he is a guy I have background with.”
Franklin reiterated that he was planning to meet with Vanderbilt’s current assistants and would decide whether to retain anyone. He, in fact, was a holdover from Ron Vanderlin’s staff at Maryland. When Ralph Friedgen took over as head coach in 2001, Franklin was retained.
“I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t do that,” Franklin said about talking to members of the current staff. “Once again, I am going to scour this country to find the best possible people that fit well at Vanderbilt. If that is some guys from the previous regime – wonderful. If that is a guy from California or Texas or Florida, wherever we got to go – great. But we are going to put a great staff here that I feel great about.”
Twice at a media gathering on Tuesday, Franklin was asked about Friedgen, who was forced out as head coach on Monday.
Franklin served as the Terrapins’ offensive coordinator for the last three years and was also there from 2000-04. He had been named Maryland’s coach-in-waiting in 2009 by then-athletics director Debbie Yow. In September, Kevin Anderson took over as athletics director and that plan to move Franklin up seemed to be in question.
“I had a tremendous experience at Maryland,” Franklin said. “I’m very, very appreciative of the opportunity I had there. My focus now is at Vanderbilt.”
While his attention is currently all-Vanderbilt, all-the-time, Franklin said he hasn’t forgotten about his team at home. Though he hasn’t pitched in with the Christmas shopping and the late nights at the office have been aplenty, Franklin said his supporting cast has been wonderful.
“I have the best wife (Fumi) in the world. I have two daughters (Addison, 2, and Ava, 3) who are unbelievable,” Franklin said. “As we all know, and I think we look past it a little bit at Christmas, it really is not about the presents. It is about the time. It is about the family. It is about the relationships. They know daddy loves them.”