James Franklin was only Vanderbilt’s head coach for three season, but it didn’t take long for the fanbase to become enamored with him. He took the Commodores from a 2-10 record to 6-7 in his first year as head coach, followed by two 9-4 seasons in the talented SEC. The Commodores won back-to-back bowl games under Franklin for the first time in team history and finished in the top-25 both seasons.
With all these victories to chose from, here are the top five moments from Franklin’s career at Vanderbilt:
1) James Franklin started his first season as head coach in 2011 with a 2-0 record — the first back-to-back wins for the Commodores’ since 2008 — topped off with a victory over UConn.
Vanderbilt led 14-3 at halftime, butUConn scored 18 unanswered points after a blocked punt and a fumble return. It didn’t take long for Vanderbilt to roar back and a field goal with less than 3 minutes in the game gave the Commodores a 24-21 win.
2) Vanderbilt became bowl eligible for the second consecutive year with an away win over Ole Miss in November 2012 to improve to 6-4 on the season.
Vanderbilt held a 16-6 deficit at the half, which was extended to 23-6 after Ole Miss added a touchdown to start the second half. Vanderbilt’s quarterback Jordan Rodgers threw a 52-yard pass to Jordan Matthews for the Commodores’ first touchdown of the game. Vanderbilt added a second touchdown to trail 23-20 heading into the fourth quarter. After Old Miss kicked its fourth field goal of the game, Vanderbilt nabbed the game-winning touchdown after a nine-play, 79 yard drive.
3) The 2012 Music City Bowl was Vanderbilt’s first bowl win since the 2008 season and marked the first time the team played in back-to-back bowl games in school history. The game capped off a 9-4 season, Vanderbilt’s best best since 1915, and it was the first top 25 finish since 1948.
Vanderbilt’s scored three touchdowns in the second quarter to lead 28-14 at the half. The Commodores sealed the game when Jordan Rodgers scored a 15 yard field goal to extend the lead to 38-17 with five minutes left. Vanderbilt would ultimately finish No. 23 ranking in the final AP poll.
4) Franklin had his first upset over a ranked team as Vanderbilt’s head coach over the Georgia Bulldogs this past season.
At the end of the first quarter, Vanderbilt trailed No. 15 Georgia only 10-7. Vanderbilt took the lead again with nine minutes left in the half, but their lead didn’t last long. The Bulldogs added two touchdowns for a 10-point lead heading into halftime. Despite 17 unanswered points after the third quarter, Vanderbilt turned the game around in the fourth quarter with two touchdowns and a field goal for a 31-27 win.
5) Vanderbilt added a second consecutive bowl win this year at the BBVA Compass Bowl over Houston, resulting in a 9-4 season and a No. 24 ranking in the final AP poll.
The Commodores led 24-0 at halftime but a Vanderbilt fumble sparked a comeback for Houston in the third quarter. Three touchdowns, including a 67 yard touchdown from Houston, had the two teams tied at 24 going into the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt bounced back with two more touchdowns and a field goal to win 41-24.