I'm a baseball guy. This means a lot of things. First, I find it deplorable that there's no minor league option for college football, and further, even more deplorable that we have to pretend a certain sizable population of these players came to college for an education. Second, it means I'm someone who values eye-test measurables and analytical evaluation over all else. Third, it means I have a pretty severe tear in my rotator cuff and can really only be an "ex-baseball guy" except for the writing part. Finally, it means I hate the James Frankins of the world.
Let me explain.
When the football equivalent of James Franco came to Nashville, I thought it was a good hire. When he revealed himself as a master marketer and salesman, I thought it was a great hire. When he took recruiting to a new level, I thought it was an amazing hire. When he took us to three straight bowls, I thought it was an epic hire, but saw in his body language that he was about to jump.
I told my friends this, and they got defensive. The strangest example of this was when a mother of three cursed me out and said, "How do you know he's leaving? Do you have no faith???" My cold rationalism aside, I could tell from his refusal to say otherwise that he was jumping ship. At that moment, I started rethinking things. I was brutalized by the events of last summer, and wanted to quit rooting for the team altogether. The thing that kept me going was Jordan Matthews and my belief in the Ol' Bald Poach. I was right about Matthews, at least.
All of this brings me to Adam Butler's surprisingly thoughtful and insightful interview, in which he succinctly summed up what we all had assumed. In an interview with The Tennessean, Butler states:
"He repeatedly told us, 'I'm not leaving, no matter what. You guys don't have to worry,' " Butler said. "He even took it as far as breaking down in tears like he always does.
"He was saying 'I'm not leaving,' and then right after the ball game (BBVA Compass Bowl), I mean no warning, no nothing, he just disappeared."
When it happened, we all thought, "Hopefully, he's told those kids," and the optimists among us assumed he did. I thought otherwise. I saw Franklin as a "jump to the next spot" opportunist, and one who would not be honest about that aspect of himself to these kids.
I was proven right by Butler's next comment:
"He came back and said, 'I'm sorry, I'm leaving' and cried again."
I legitimately love Butler's tone here. There's no possibility that these were not crocodile tears, or that the reception by the team was that he was anything but completely insincere.
Butler also excoriates the Ol' Bald Poach by stating:
"He was a big camera guy. He loved the camera, absolutely," Butler said. "Coach Franklin was true, no doubt, but I feel like some of it was a little bit more than what it had to be. There was a little bit of acting going on."
While Butler was being demure, I'll be overt. Franklin was an opportunist who used us to jump to the next level. He decided the next level was a school still feeling the sanctions and cultural impacts of one of the biggest scandals to ever affect college sports. It wasn't "a little bit of acting." It was the behavior of a person who's never once thought about the world beyond himself.
In short, Adam Butler is an honest man who we should all be proud we share the "Vanderbilt Man" tag with. The poach? He's composed of carbon and water. That's about all we have in common with him.