Former Maryland OC and current Vanderbilt coach James Franklin to WNST and Terps Nation: I didn’t want to walk away”

December 22, 2010 | Ryan Chell

“To me, that’s how I view this opportunity. It’s just an unbelievable opportunity for me and my family, and also for these tremendous student athletes across the country who are going to have the opportunity to play for us here at Vanderbilt.”

But Franklin’s departure from Maryland probably made more of an impact on the program than initially speculated.

When it was official on Dec.  17th that Franklin was introduced as head coach of Vanderbilt, his former boss in Ralph Friedgen was shown the door at Maryland.

In Monday’s press conference, new AD Kevin Anderson wouldn’t elaborate as to why Friedgen was being dismissed after an ACC Coach of the Year performance and a 8-4 season, but the main point that Anderson expressed was that the decision was made only after Franklin left the program.

And Franklin would give no more explanation to the shocking news regarding Friedgen to Nelson or Clark than Anderson did.

“My focus from the day Vanderbilt hired me until the day I leave is on making this one of the finest academic and athletic organizations in the country. And this football program is going to have a commitment to excellence in everything we do, and that is my focus.”

But what could be the case is that Maryland felt like the program lost a lot of its power with recruiting and that Friedgen was only as good as he was with Franklin and the other assistants in place. And with Friedgen only being guaranteed he would be back for one more year, the Maryland athletic staff may have felt like they needed to make the change sooner rather than later.

Franklin could be in the position to pick up several of Maryland’s cast-offs when it comes to not only players, but coaches as well.

“I’m not going to make any announcements until the entire staff has been put together,” Franklin said. “We’ll announce it all at once. I can tell you this. It’s going to be one of the best if not the best staff in the country. Bunch of great coaches with a great knowledge base. Every one of them are going to be great recruiters. At this day and age, you can’t have a guy that’s just a good coach and not a great recruiter.”

And Terrapin football fans probably feel even worse today with the rumors that their quarterback in Danny O’Brien could be leaving the program with both his head coach and the man who recruited him in Franklin gone.

O’Brien most likely will remain at Maryland, and even if he isn’t following Franklin to Vanderbilt or another school, Franklin said O’Brien will always be rooting for him.

“I love Danny O brien. I love all those players. I love all those quarterbacks there. They are part of their family…and they will be a part of my family for the next 40-50 years. Anything they need I’m going to be there for him. This has never been about just coaching football to me. It’s about relationships. It’s about trust. And it’s about bringing people into your life that are going to be there forever.”

And who knows, there is a bowl game in his backyard in Nashville that currently pits an ACC school versus an SEC opponent. Maybe next season his old team might be playing his new one.

And for some reason, those things always seem to pan out that way to allow that circumstance to happen. And it’s a discussion he hopes to have because if he is discussing facing Maryland-or any team-in a bowl game, he is doing his job for the Commodores.

“That would be pretty interesting,” Franklin laughed. “When I interviewed, we talked about what happened at Maryland having been to one bowl game in 16 years and then the expectations change with seven out of ten.

“I’m hoping that’s the discussion and the concern we’re talking about here in four or five years that the expectations have changed…you have to continue to grow. You have to continue to develop, and you have to develop new expectations. Once you’ve met your expectations, you have to be willing to say this isn’t good enough anymore. We’re going to reset the bar.”

WNST will continue to follow James Franklin as he makes the move toward becoming the next football coach at Vanderbilt! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!