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What is going on at Vandy?

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?



Article written by Andrew Cassady

Follow me @ACassady_KSR

47 Comments for What is going on at Vandy?

  1. Paducah Fan
    6:04 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Its what the majority of everyone on this site has been saying, It’s the coaching.

  2. jake the snake
    6:07 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Well, they had nowhere to go but up, right. Yeah and that new coach dude.

  3. Joker
    6:09 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    So… facilities, stadium, and number of fans don’t really affect the ability to recruit top notch players?

    Ahhhhhh sh!t, looks like I (along with my supporters) have to come up with new excuses.

  4. JudgeSmails
    6:11 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s wait until they win something before we get really excited, ok? Recruiting rankings are nice and all but they don’t mean jack sh$t until it’s proven on the field. One decent year does not recent success make.

  5. Durrrr
    6:12 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    But we all really like Joker as a person, right guys?

    Vandy with a SEC type football program. Must be nice.

  6. BBN
    6:12 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Well folks, looks like Joker has turned us into Vandy (pre Coach Franklin Vandy).

  7. Mark Liptak
    6:18 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink



    Mark Liptak

  8. vandylaw
    6:20 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    They are also building an indoor practice facility. Going to be state of the art. Though I wear blue any time they play, its nice to be excited about Vandy football, as a law student.

  9. 44 Stitches
    6:23 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Franklin is a coach kids want to play for. He thinks outside the box and you can tell is probably a character. Remember he said he wouldn’t hire someone to his staff if he hadn’t seen their wife first. Franklin said his assistants wife have to be good looking. Franklin was like if the wife is hot and they can step to hot chick and pull her in then they should have no problem on the recruiting trail selling Vandy. Franklin and UGA’s assistant coach Todd Grantham had a very heated exchange after last years game as players looked on. Of course they both down played it but they came closer to fighting than I’ve ever seen between coaches.

  10. Mal
    6:26 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    How about the decline of Tennessee football leading to the opportunity for Vanderbilt to take advantage of the recruits they would normally get? And yea coaching is huge, everyone knows that.

  11. bluebloodtoo
    6:28 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    It must be those super cool gold helmets. I wonder why vandy didn’t get with the right shoe company. I mean that star looks just like Converse!

  12. BigBluSoTru
    6:33 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Its’ the wife he has a “HOT FREAKING WIFE”. Maybe Joker needs to get with him and Lane Kiffin who also has a “HOT WIFE”.

  13. MtnCat
    6:33 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    It’s the human assets that matter!

    It’s not facilities, geography, politics, even tradition.

    Call it coaching, administering, teaching, preaching.

    It’s call knowing what the hell you’re doing and doing it better than everybody else.

  14. Hulk Hogan
    6:41 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Whats up with big 12 wait acc wait oh yeah big east cards and MR STRONG

  15. jpgott2
    6:47 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Franklin, is pulling in crops of 4-Star recruits to a university he has only had 1 season at. He guided a team full of 2-star players, to a 6-6 regular season record, and a season that saw them competitive in all but 1 game (Alabama). He is continuing to bring in great recruiting classes, and is doing all of this at a university that is still building its athletic facilities, and is recognized as one of the worst football programs in BCS history.

    Joker on the other hand, has been with UK for 10 years, in which he was a large part of UK’s recruiting effort. Joker is NOT new to UK like Franklin is to Vandy, and Joker has a roster of 3-star players compared to the shambles of 2-Stars under Franklins 1st season. Joker has been atrocious in his first couple of seasons as HC of UK, even though he has been in the program as a significant figure for some time, and had a 5 games bowl streak to work off of! UK is not remotely COMPETITIVE, while Vandy is on its way.
    Stealing a 4 star recruit from the city of Louisville from UL, shows how good Franklin is at recruiting. He is not trying to find these “gems in the rough”, for he is going out and taking these highly touted players. He is painting a picture of Vandy, that somehow appeals to recruits. That right there is talent.

    Franklin is not trying to find “playmakers” 3/4ths of the way through the season!!

  16. notSofastMyfriend
    6:48 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    #14,i don’t think we can laugh at tards about anything in football.Thats like throwing stones in your own house thats made of glass sometimes we say some stupid things about other programs. Especially when it comes to football. Not bashing you just tripping about it no harm.

  17. blah
    6:50 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    1. Nashville is awesome, never had a bad time in Nashville.
    2. Vandy is a great school. If you are a football recruit that is not a sure fire NFL’er, Vandy should be your #2. When you don’t make the NFL you have a 40k education to fall back on.
    3. Franklin is a beast.

  18. cat4ever
    6:54 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Simple. He knows what he is doing. He knows what he needs to get R done. And he can enthusiastically sell it to the university, fans, assistant coaches, and recruits.

  19. ScottW
    7:18 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Check this article out, apparently he is one of the most persuasive coaches. Maybe thats it?

  20. Bleaker
    7:21 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Athletes go to Vandy for the “great education” **rolls eyes** Somethings rotten in Denmark, err Nashville

  21. SexnNursinHomes
    7:22 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Simply put, Vandy is getting it done because of their Asst. coaches’ wives being hot. Joker needs to be causing divorces if he’s going to be able to compete with Vandy.

  22. Really?
    7:26 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    The post above alleges that Joker guided us to a 6-7 record last year. Hey “Andrew” what are you smoking dood?

  23. FloydsScissors
    7:33 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Apparently Vandy gets IT……..

  24. mike
    7:35 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s not make this a difficult question to answer. We are not dealing with rocket science here. Vandy got a coach with very good credentials and one who has some “rock star” charisma and some of the same selling abilities of a Bruce Pearl. Bottom line…he is a good salesman and got everybody believing in the product he was selling. Our guy does not have any credentials and not much more charisma.

  25. J L Lovett
    7:42 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink


  26. James
    7:51 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Well Vanderbilt hired Joker Phillips to join UK staff and purposefully screw us over.

  27. Tony
    8:20 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    It’s simple…Franklin has the personality, Joker doesn’t. It’s really that simple. I hate that it has to be that way, but let’s face it, listening to Joker talk is painful most of the time. Then you throw on top of that his “watching paint dry” personality and it’s not that hard to figure out.

  28. Bill
    8:31 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    They’re cheating. I’m just going to say it. They are cheating, and so is UCLA basketball.

  29. Troy
    8:40 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    The players name is Ryan White – not James White.

  30. Garrett Fryrear
    8:51 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    James White? HAHAHAHAHA! And this is supposed to be a credible blog? One where it’s writers actually know a little about what they are posting about?

  31. Yabba Do
    9:01 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Let’s see, in basketball we’re told that we can’t just rely on our tradition to remain the gold standard, we must spend money to do so. But, when it comes to football we go all stupid and ask idiotic questions like, do we need to upgrade our facilities? Come on people, the lack of financial commitment has been our problem for 5 decades. Let’s remedy this problem once and for all.

  32. Ryan White
    9:23 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    I think you mean Ryan White from Trinity. Like #29 said. James white is a preacher in AZ.

  33. UKUKUK1865
    9:50 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Joker=Tubby Both great guys but…………………

  34. JBR
    10:08 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Where is “common sense” on this post…has to come up with a different set of excuses as to why Franklin can do it at Vandy…

  35. Hop
    10:36 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    He’ll (Franklin) will be gone to bigger and better things after this year anyway.

  36. Amazing Ace
    11:38 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    Proof positive that REAL coaches get it done—pretenders plead with fans to not abandon the players and routinely get out-coached. If your eyes weren’t opened when Vandy beat UK by THIRTY points that Phillips is not an SEC-caliber coach then there’s no hope for you. Kentucky’s football program is at ROCK BOTTOM in the SEC. That is not in dispute. The only question for now is when will Barnhart pull the proverbial trigger and fire Phillips? It won’ be soon enough. If you enjoy watching UK struggle with mediocre teams and get blown out by the rest, keep paying for the tickets and attending the games. Mitch Barnhart appreciates your blind loyalty and more important, your bucks! Keep ’em comin’!

  37. LordofBlue
    11:40 pm August 1, 2012 Permalink

    I work in Vandy’s athletic dept. Coach Franklin and his staff are incredibly relentless in identifying talent and selling Vandy. I have never met Calipari but the impression I have of Calipari from reading several sites is very similar to what I see personally from Coach Franklin. He doesn’t have the resources Calipari has but he will surround himself with people that get it done. I do believe Calipari at UMASS would be a good comparison. The kids will kill for that man and all of his staff. Literally have never heard a coworker or player say a bad word about him or his staff. Coach Stallings on the other hand… Vandy won it’s first SEC Tournament in basketball and literally all the buzz in athletics is for football first and then baseball who went to the college world series in 2011. We UK fans better get used to being jealous of Vandy Football as long as Franklin is there and we’re stuck in a rut.

  38. claiborne_field
    12:13 am August 2, 2012 Permalink


  39. Reese
    12:22 am August 2, 2012 Permalink

    Wanted to go to UofL when they were headed to Big 12. Now that they are stuck in weaker and weaker Big East looked for stronger conference to play in. Just wish it would’ve been UK.

  40. $$$$
    1:37 am August 2, 2012 Permalink

    Simple, money, money, money

  41. putinrichie
    5:48 am August 2, 2012 Permalink

    Vandy has A LOT going for it…..even more than UK for that matter. They just needed a coach to sell the program’s strengths and it appears that is happening, so yes it is coaching.

    1.) Vandy is the best academic school in the toughest conference in America. Just like many elite football players choose Notre Dame, Stanford, Michigan, etc….there are some great recruits out there who do choose college based on academic reputation.
    2.) Nashville is the biggest city in the toughest conference in America. Nothing against Lexington, Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, etc….but, these are just college towns. Nashville is a real city with an NFL team and a lot going on. If you sell the city than this will appeal to many recruits.
    3.) Playing time – UK can offer this one too and should to the best of their ability. I know you don’t guarantee playing time, but if you find the studs that want to play now and don’t really want to redshirt than that can be a great way to sell the opportunity.

  42. SteveM
    8:46 am August 2, 2012 Permalink

    What’s going on at Vandy??? Clearly a commitment to improving their football program…that’s what’s going on. Something that’s not happening at UK…. boycott UK football.

  43. Greg
    8:54 am August 2, 2012 Permalink

    But…but…but….MATT says that we can’t attract players from other areas of the country because of our facilities!!!!! I have shoes older than Matt & MY lifetime observation is that it IS primarily the Coach (see UaK BBall). Look at programs through the course of time. The rise & fall of the program is almost Always related to the coach. When THE University of Kentucky decides to put money back in & hire a Real Coach…there is No Reason the Cats shouldn’t average 8 wins a year…some years more.

  44. Tony
    9:01 am August 2, 2012 Permalink

    I remember way back when Mitch was hired, he was actually touted as a “football AD.” I’m assuming that was because of his time at Tennessee and the fact that he hired Dennis Erickson to coach Oregon State. Obviously something changed since he arrived in Lexington. Either his hands really are tied due to things out of his control, or he truly does not know how to move UK Football forward. What a shame!

  45. dukesuX
    10:25 am August 2, 2012 Permalink

    Prolly seXier & far more prostitutes for the young men to “enjOy” not only on their Official visits butt also Once they LaND there in nash-vile???? (LMFAO!!!!)

  46. ukcat58
    10:31 am August 2, 2012 Permalink

    Have you seen Franklin? Wow -energy, charisma, the has galvonized the Vandy nation and they believe they can win. It is all about that intangible LEADERSHIP which in its simplist form inspires people to follow – Franklin has it, Joker does not – Joker may be blue for life but with the reveune stream from UK FB so critical, he will be blue for life in the stands – next year!