When James Franklin was hired as the head coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores in 2010, he knew he had a steep challenge ahead of him.
The Commodores were coming off back-to-back seasons of only managing two wins, and there was no reason to think that Franklin was going to be able to change that anytime soon.
Franklin has embraced that challenge ever since the day he was introduced as head coach, and he's wasting no time turning this program in a positive direction in more ways than one.
For starters, Franklin got the university to fund $31 million for a new indoor practice facility. That's a lot of money for a school to spend that has historically not paid much attention to athletics in comparison to other SEC schools. Having a respectable practice facility is vital to whether or not the Commodores are going to be able to recruit with their SEC counterparts.
The Commodores current 2013 recruiting class ranks 17th according to Rivals.com, and most class rankings have them ranked at least in the top 30. Being ranked that high was absolutely unheard of before Franklin arrived. In fact, the Commodores 2009 recruiting class ranked 71st.
It's still puzzling that it took this long, but finally a Vanderbilt football coach is using the school's academic prestige as an advantage instead of an excuse.
Not to say that former head coach Bobby Johnson didn't use the same message, but he certainly wasn't as effective with getting it across.
Another thing to notice is the buzz about Vanderbilt football is the new uniforms that were recently unveiled. Uniforms might not add more wins to their record next season, but it still plays into that notion that the Commodores are distancing themselves from what they once were.
Something as simple as new uniforms also helps energize these young kids to get excited about the upcoming season.
Much like the uniforms, another cosmetic upgrade for this program is their stadium upgrades. The construction is at full-speed in order for the upgrades to be done in time for their season-opener against South Carolina on a national stage.
Future prospects pay attention to stuff as simple as how the field looks on national television. Most of your coveted prospects do not want to play in a stadium that doesn't present itself well on the big stage.
Finally, no one can blame Franklin for not doing everything in his capacity to get the fan base energized. Vanderbilt doesn't have the gigantic fan base that most SEC schools enjoy, but Franklin is once again making sure he gets every ounce of fan support for his players this upcoming season.
Current players have to appreciate that, and you better believe that potential recruits also notice that.
All of these positive things that Franklin is doing in such a short amount of time will gradually allow the Commodores to get over the hump. Stanford has proven that with the right head coach, an highly academic school can still enjoy a lot of success in college football.
Franklin can't change what has happened in the past with this program, but he's proving that he can certainly change where it's going.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!