James Franklin’s Top Five Moments as Vanderbilt Head Coach
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.
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After losing my father to cancer, I thought there was nothing THON could offer me that I didn’t already know. After four years, I found comfort in the familiar.
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