With the news breaking yesterday that 4-star cornerback James White would be decommitting from Louisville to join James Franklin at Vanderbilt it is safe to say that the school in Nashville is doing something right. Since the league began in 1932 Vanderbilt has been a perennial bottom dweller of the conference and the one team the Cats could count on for a SEC victory each year. However, after last year’s beatdown on the road and the strides Franklin has made in recruiting at least for now that is no longer the case. Just what is going on at Vandy?
Vanderbilt currently has the 16th ranked class in the land according to Rivals and 30th according to Scout. While those numbers are still near the bottom of the SEC, they are impressive for a school that faces many of the same limitations as Kentucky. Both schools lack solid tradition especially when compared to the elite schools of the SEC. Both states do not produce an abundance of top talent and when they do the recruits must be fought over with other in state schools. Vandy has the further blessing/curse of being an academically driven institution which can limit the recruits they can bring to campus but also adds another selling point. Still they have found a way to draw some of the top talent in the nation to Nashville. What has made the difference for Vanderbilt and how can the Cats repeat it?
Is it the head coach? Vanderbilt’s fortunes seemed to change with the arrival of Coach Franklin. His first year as coach he hauled in the 29th ranked class according to rivals and he lead the ‘dores to a 6-7 record with 5 losses coming by 7 points or less. At media day Coach Franklin was swarmed by the press after he wasn’t talked to by a single person last year. Joker as a head coach also went 6-7 in his first year with a few close losses and has been bringing in some of the best recruiting classes Lexington has ever seen. Perhaps what is making the difference for Vandy isn’t the head coach but the football stadium.
Is it the upgraded facilities? Earlier this summer ESPN ranked Vandy as having the worst facilities in the SEC. That is quickly changing. Vanderbilt’s rise has also coincided with an upgrade to their football stadium. Rennovations have ranged from small things like new paint on the interior and exterior of the stadium and installation of new fences. To major upgrades such as luxury suites, new seating, upgrades to locker rooms and recruiting facilities, a new playing surface, and a new video board. Commonwealth could benefit from many of these upgrades but there are major barriers for the university as it has been discussed on the radio show several times.
If it is possible for Vanderbilt to bring in some of the top recruits in the land, recruits from our own state no less, then Kentucky should be able to do the same thing. What remains to be seen is if the higher level of recruiting will result in success for Vandy on the field and how long they can keep it up. One thing is for sure though if Franklin does find success at Vandy it’s hard to see him turning down offers from bigger schools. At least with Joker we know no matter the level of success he is a Wildcat for life. What do you think is the biggest reason for the recent success at Vandy?