Franklin's 'inappropriate' comments lead to 'long talk' with vice chancellor

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:26pm

The text message puzzled David Williams.

Wrapped up all day at the Southeastern Conference’s annual meetings in Sandestin, Fla., Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor of Athletics checked his phone Thursday afternoon. In his inbox was a text message from his wife that read, “Have you heard about the statements?”

“She didn’t say what, so I was like, ‘What statement?’ ” Williams said. “That was my initiation to it. By the time I could get back to anybody [at Vanderbilt] I had received several more emails.”

Williams quickly got up to speed with the situation when he learned about remarks that Commodores football coach James Franklin made in a radio interview Wednesday.

“I’ve been saying it for a long time, I will not hire an assistant coach until I’ve seen his wife,” Franklin said on 104.5 The Zone (WGFX-FM). “If she looks the part, and she’s a D-I recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. There is a very strong correlation between having the confidence of going up and talking to a woman and being quick on your feet and having some personality and confidence and being fun and articulate than it is walking into a high school and recruiting a kid and selling him.”

Williams called the comments “inappropriate” and “offensive” and said he had a lengthy phone discussion Thursday with Franklin, who was also in Florida for the meetings.

“James understands the mistake he made. He is very apologetic,” Williams said. “I think James sort of thought he was talking in a joking sort of matter. We talked about how that’s even inappropriate in a joking sort of matter. Certainly that is not the criteria that Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt athletics or football uses or will use in their hiring.

“We had a long discussion about it, and he’s a little embarrassed and a little ashamed that he made those statements. ... That’s not what we do. That’s not who we are. That’s not what happens over there.”

Williams stressed that professional qualifications are the only criteria considered for employment at Vanderbilt.

“You’re looking at the ability of the individual and those other things aren’t a factor,” Williams said. “Sometimes people look at jobs and look at positions as it relates to how well my family will like it, how well they’ll fit. But that’s not a criteria for the job. That’s more of a personal sort of thing.”

Franklin attempted to back away from the comments, which caught the attention of multiple national media outlets, with a barrage of Tweets on Thursday, the last of which read, “I clearly used language that doesn’t reflect my views on women and I am SORRY!”

He then took to the air waves later that night in an interview with 102.5 The Game (WPRT-FM).

“I should stick to coaching football and stay away from comedy and humor because this did not go the way I intended it to go,” the second-year head coach said. “I was simply using a reference about the confidence it takes to approach a woman who eventually is going to become your wife and that same confidence translating over in a lot of different areas of your life. ... I apologize. I did not mean to offend anyone. But I was trying to be funny and have some humor and have some personality but it came off the wrong way and I did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings and I apologize for that. I really do.”

It wasn’t the first time Franklin’s words have garnered attention.

At a pep rally following national signing day in February, he said recruits who de-committed from Vanderbilt were “not men of honor” and “not men of integrity.” The statements were ironic since Vanderbilt signee Patton Robinette had de-committed from North Carolina a month before signing day.

An emotional 40-year-old who admitted in the same radio interview on Wednesday that he was a “psycho” when it came to his nonstop lifestyle, Franklin hasn’t backed away from conflict. He was involved in a postgame altercation with Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Franklin defended the Commodores when Tennessee coach Derek Dooley insulted Vanderbilt in a postgame locker room speech after UT’s double overtime win in November.

Williams said intense passion is a factor in Franklin’s success and isn’t concerned about emotions getting the best of the coach.

“All of us sometimes make mistakes and sometimes say things we wish we hadn’t,” Williams said. “I don’t in any shape, form or fashion want to temper James’ enthusiasm and the things that make him successful. When there are things that are said that we think we need to talk about, we’ll talk about it. You kind of live and learn and I think he’ll be OK. I think this was one that really has sort of hit him hard because I don’t think he initially thought about how offensive and inappropriate it could be.

“Trust me I know he didn’t mean to offend anybody.”

By early Thursday night, Williams said he hadn’t talked to his wife, Gail, since the text message. When asked about her possible reaction to the comments, Williams began laughing.

“I’m sure she’ll tell me,” he said.

31 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 6/1/12 at 5:57

Sports news in Nashville & Vandy is always so important and such a laughable
hoot! I'm reminded of the Tenn Ernie Ford song: " Big Bad John/James!"

By: jdftn1947 on 6/1/12 at 6:14

it must be ok at vandy to demean women if you are a football coach .. you would think that vandy would know better
the coach needs to be fired if not fired some of this high paying salary taken away
and vandy should be ashamed to hold women in such low esteem .. wonder what
his wife thought about these statements
that would be the real news story
Franklin's 'inappropriate' comments lead to 'long talk' with vice chancellor good old boys talking about nothing I bet ..
again shame on vandy for thinking a long talk was good enough

By: bruingeek on 6/1/12 at 6:17

He messed up. He apologized. So, he is human. Can we move on to real news?

By: yogiman on 6/1/12 at 6:34

He was simply trying to make a joke and be funny. It just didn't come out of his mouth the right way.

Maybe it's better to keep your mouth shut unless you're coaching, coach.

By: Jetty on 6/1/12 at 6:53


Oh, my heavens. Look, I am only one woman, so I can speak for only myself.

I'll admit that I've been offended by public comments made in my lifetime by politicians, coaches, and others. When these kinds of things offend me, usually the extent of my offense is to think less of the person who made the comment because they clearly lack good judgment, but I am never offended to the point of doing something, like writing in to complain.

Having said that, in this case, this is nothing. The man was trying to be funny. I see the humor in what he was trying to say, and quite honestly, I see the logic in what he was trying to say.

Let's not look for politically incorrect offenses where there are none. We are all so quick to yell foul and be offended. However, I truly believe that in many cases, we aren't even really offended; we just think we should be or someone told us we should be so we join the masses and cry foul.

And, the very idea of firing this man over these statements - give me a break. He probably could have used a different analogy to make his point, and he probably should have just to avoid this kind of hysteria from the politically correct police.

Friends, let's get a grip. Let's take all of this silliness down a few notches.

By: dargent7 on 6/1/12 at 6:57

This reminds me of the Don Imus deal. Guy's in radio for over 40 years, does a great job, has a ranch that specializes in kids with terminal cancer, wife produces wholistic cleaning products....and utters 3 words, "nappy headed hoes", that gets him FIRED!.
Franklin is a cement head for calling wives, "D-1 recruits", whatever that means.
Their brians or hooters? Maybe he meant both.

By: global_citizen on 6/1/12 at 8:05

He made an off the cuff comment trying to be jovial. People are taking this WAY too seriously. Vanderbilt is trying to save face by being publicly austere and reproachful toward Franklin when they should just say, "James is a great guy and a great coach. He was being flip. Let's everyone try to remember what humor is."

Besides, I get what he's saying and there's some truth to it.

By: HenryB on 6/1/12 at 8:12

We all know what he meant: "If you have the stones to approach and nab a real trophy wife, then you have the stones to walk into a high school and charm recruits while up against recruiters with better football programs." D1 is that elite athletics-training program in Franklin, and D1 recruits are said to be top-notch athletes. Thus, your trophy wife has to be D1 quality in the "hotness" category. It was a stupid thing to say.

By: BigPapa on 6/1/12 at 9:09

This is crazy. I can't believe how far this has gone. If anyone heard Boclair on 1045 this morning he took this thing to a new level of absurdity.

By: wiseguy1 on 6/1/12 at 9:56

Yawn ... apparently a slow news day. So Nashville gets excited about one of Frankilin's measures of confidence in a man. Let's go look at what is said about John Edwards and his trial. Something that really should impact the way people think about the guys that want to run our fair nation. Maybe Edwards' debacle is not percieved as important since it does not affect college football.

Hmm ... Edwards ... crook ... Democrat.

Democrat ... Bill Clinton ... millions selling nights in Lincoln Bedroom ... party in the white house that lead to the philosophy that it ain't wrong unless you get caught, well rather convicted ... which lead to mortgage fiasco and financial collapse for millions of Americans ... definition of is?? Seriously??

Sitting President ... tells everybody to tighten their belt while his daughters go on a spring break junket in Mexico ... you connect the dots. Sitting President can't even vacation in the US!?! Why not spend some time on Gulf of Mexico? Those Florida, Alabama, Mississppi, Lousiana or Texas folks could sure use a bit of financial infusion. But nope your tax dollars ... gone to Mexico. The only Southern state near the GOM Obama set foot in to ask for votes (campaign) was Florida. Heck with everybody else. Apparently his disdain for the south is still intact.

And you guys want to get all excited about James Franklin and his philosophy of confidence in a coach??

By: royt5 on 6/1/12 at 10:10

It is hard for me to see what this controversy is all about. Everybody is so politically correct these days. And with all the controversy in the last couple months over Vanderbilt treating Christians the way they do, and they have the gall to get on someone about this. I really like Franklin's sense of humor. Everybody justs needs to cool it, and leave the guy alone. If this keeps up in the future, I can see a pretty good coach leaving for another position in the future, and I would not blame him.

By: GUARDIAN on 6/1/12 at 11:52

Vanderbilt has always been a class act win or lose but once you've gone ghetto I guess that's out the door........... GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: Roknmama on 6/1/12 at 1:47

Seriously?!!?! Are you kidding? As a woman, I find the whole thing "offensive" --not Franklin's remarks per se--but how the media has blown this whole situation out of proportion! So over the top are people's knee jerk reactions these days.

I wonder if all those who are offended are just jealous about how Coach Franklin has really developed Vanderbilt into a successful football team. You know how it goes, success creates green-eyed envy in those not so successful (UT orange not so orange the last couple of years.)

Finally, Coach Franklin could have made a better analogy in his example. But as a woman with a really good sense of humor and a brain, I get what he was trying to say.

Lighten up everybody!

By: SportsFan13 on 6/1/12 at 2:15

Go listen to 104.5 the Zone entire interview and you will hear his comments in context. Nothing offensive at all about it. David Williams apology just shows how important it is to bend to PC for the sake of fundraising/money. I'm offended that all these people say they are offended. Some people just have to find/look for something to gripe about.

By: wiseguy1 on 6/1/12 at 3:24

I'm crushed. I slip the political Baby Ruth bar in the punch bowl with a resounding 'plop' and not even a peep from the party guests.

By: Mike Burch on 6/1/12 at 4:41

He should make sure the assistant coaches have smoking hot DAUGHTERS, if he really want to make an impression on recruits. (Just kidding, of course!)

By: tn.native on 6/1/12 at 11:10

The conversation with the vice chancellor was actually pretty short. He said, "Uh, we don't need you to do that".

By: govskeptic on 6/2/12 at 8:08

I'm sure while pondering this great problem it occurred to Mr. Williams: What
would Harvard do?"

By: MetalMan on 6/3/12 at 5:49

Apology my sweet aunt! Weak, superficcial, shallow...very Slick Willieish.

By: Rasputin72 on 6/3/12 at 8:51

Here you have country where the voting majority is a called the "underclass" But the few ridiculous poltically correct want to jump on a black man who has pulled himself from his beginnings because he looked at things with pride. What a strange country this has become.

Why don't the politically correct check into the value system of NBA players and NFL players and see if they would like to have them as a neighbor?

By: Rasputin72 on 6/3/12 at 8:51

Here you have country where the voting majority is a called the "underclass" But the few ridiculous poltically correct want to jump on a black man who has pulled himself from his beginnings because he looked at things with pride. What a strange country this has become.

Why don't the politically correct check into the value system of NBA players and NFL players and see if they would like to have them as a neighbor?

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