clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What Price Brigadoon?

What did James Franklin know and when did he know it?

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The first reference, of course, goes to @VandyExile, who looked back at 2012-13 on Twitter as our season fell apart and wondered whether it wasn't that mythical Scottish village that only appears once in a hundred years.  Which was literally  the case.  The previous time Commodore football racked up nine wins was in 1915, and there was no precedent for a combined eighteen wins in two years.

The second reference goes to the late great Howard Baker (R-TN), Senate Majority Leader who famously asked during the Watergate investigation "What did the President know and when did he know it?" The point being that as President, the administration of the executive branch was his responsibility - in Truman's line, "the buck stops here."

We destroyed the Fulmer Cup. The classic EDSBS feature cataloging the off-season shenanigans of college football players never really featured Vanderbilt before 2013 - and then this happened, and it was so horrific that the Cup simply disappeared.  God knows I take my shots at Florida State, and especially at the Tallahassee PD, but on a sheer "holy shit this is appalling" level, you have to get into Jerry Sandusky territory to find something more jaw-dropping than what happened here in June 2013.  Consequently, I don't think there's one single thing wrong with going down the line and holding people to account for what happened. Chris Boyd, for instance - he probably would have been a first-day draft pick if he'd played a senior season, but because he didn't drop a dime on those guys as soon as he knew, he was off the team, and rightly so.  There are plenty of other guys who have yet to be named and shamed, and I don't have a problem with that coming out.

Two of James Franklin's prize recruits are going away for something like 20 years.  My understanding is that max sentences served consecutively would be closer to 360 years, so 20 seems a little short to me, especially when it's been 20 years since I matriculated at Vanderbilt and that doesn't feel the least bit long ago. But I digress.  Two more are going to see trial shortly and on current form I don't expect them to walk out of the courtroom as free men.  Four guys off to prison. That's something like 20% of a recruiting class here.

Now, in fairness, attrition is part of the game in college football.  If a large chunk of a coach's first recruiting class doesn't work out, that's par for the course.  If a lot of guys are off the team soon after a new coach arrives, that's hardly unexpected.  (Consider the housecleaning going on at Texas under Strong, or at Mississippi State when Sly Croom first took the reins.) But an incident so out of character for this football program means you have to look at the entire program and see what happened to make it possible.  And for any football program, the buck stops with the head coach.

I realize there are ongoing legal matters.  I realize that answers will not be immediately forthcoming.  And I realize that people up north will immediately start complaining about bringing up old business and sour grapes and jilted lovers and whatnot.  I. Do. Not. Care. This is not a school that exists to serve the greater needs of the football program. This is a university that has a football team, and is concerned with how that team reflects on the school.  And for the sake of the other Franklin recruits that still make up the majority of our staff, we need an explanation, if nothing else to spare them the emerging slander that all Franklin's recruits were of a piece and that they're all suspect.  I don't believe this to be the case, but I'd really like to hear someone in power say so.

To that end, what I'd like is an answer to three simple questions, and if VCDW can answer these just as effectively, then let him, because he should be in position to know:

1) Under James Franklin, were any existing standards of admission or player conduct for the football team relaxed from prior requirements?

2) To what extent did Franklin help or hinder the investigation of the crime once it was disclosed?

3) What measures have since been put in place by Franklin, VCDW and the present football administration to ensure that this is the last time something like this happens?  Not the last time we hear about it, because if it happens again we damn well better hear about it.  The last time it happens.  I'm not interested in good PR. I am interested in not being that kind of university.

What did the head football coach know, when did he know it, and what did he do about it?  I don't think it's in any way unfair to ask, and as supporters of this university and what it ought to stand for, I think we're owed answers about how something this repugnant came to pass.  Maybe four guys really did just go berserk out of the clear blue sky and commit this outrage.  If so, let's make absolutely sure that's an end of it.  Because if there was more to it than that, and that's the price of eight wins and a 4th place finish? To hell with that. If supporting this team without feeling like I need a shower means we win two games a year? 2-10 today, 2-10 tomorrow, 2-10 forever.