OKTC has learned that James Franklin is poised to sign a new contract extension with Vanderbilt that includes substantial campus facility upgrades, raises for his assistant coaches, and a substantial growth in commitment to the football program from the university. Last season Vanderbilt announced a new indoor football facility and an extension with Franklin. This year OKTC has been told by multiple sources that yet-to-be-announced facility commitments will be even more substantial than the indoor football field and will include, among other things, substantial renovations to the football stadium, new locker rooms, and other facility upgrades designed to further grow Vanderbit’s football profile.
Vanderbilt is presently drafting this extension which will include language guaranteeing the facility improvements in Franklin’s new contract.
News of the agreed to extension comes amidst a coaching search feeding frenzy across the nation that has seen Franklin, who took the Commodores to eight victories in a season for the first time in 30 years, become one of the hottest names in the country this offseason.
Indeed, over the past two and a half weeks multiple sources tell OKTC that Franklin has been contacted by representatives from all three major job SEC openings, Auburn, Tennessee, and Arkansas to gauge his interest in interviewing for those job. On top of that multiple sources have told OKTC that Franklin was also contacted by California and Colorado about their open jobs. The Arkansas Razorbacks pursued Franklin the most aggressively, returning multiple times with more substantial offers to try and persuade him to the leave the Commodores after just two seasons at the helm.
Ultimately the Razorbacks offered nearly $5 million a year to Franklin, who rebuffed the offers in favor of a more substantial commitment from Vanderbilt.
Franklin, whose contract does not have a substantial buyout, figures to remain a hot name on the coaching circuit so long as he continues to win at Vanderbilt, a place that no coach in two generations has won at consistently. But Vanderbilt’s commitment to Franklin is substantial, as the coach will now make over $3 million a year.
Reached for comment about OKTC’s story Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams declined to discuss the specifics of Vanderbilt’s facilities upgrades but did say this, “Our commitment to James and his coaching staff has not changed and James’s commitment to Vanderbilt has not changed either.”
As Vanderbilt prepares for its bowl announcement later today — the first time in school history the Commodores have been to back-to-back bowl games — look for the extension and the facility upgrades to be announced at some point later this week.
For now James Franklin’s anchor remains firmly down on West End Avenue.