America loves a winner!
Normally, it is when that winner happens to be playing America's loveable loser, America may not love it so much. But that is exactly what South Carolina will be facing when they play Vanderbilt on Thursday, August 30.
On Friday, August 24, Vandy coach James Franklin and linebacker/special teams player Marc Panu will appear on Fox Network's national morning show, Fox and Friends.
Panu is a fourth-year walk-on player. A YouTube video event involving Panu, the coach and the team has received several hundred thousand plays recently.
The video shows coach Franklin telling the rest of the Vandy team to watch Panu as a huge video board shows replays behind the coach. The player is going all out making plays as the video rolls.
Suddenly, Coach Franklin announces that Panu was being rewarded with a full scholarship for all of his hard work. Immediately, the whole team erupts into cheers.
For the cost of a one-year scholarship to Vandy (approx. $60,000), the coach has generated good will that millions couldn't buy. It's a true feel-good story that America is apparently embracing.
Let me inject here that although I don't know the player, Marc Panu, I could not be more happy for him. Being a fourth-year walk-on player at a school like Vandy, you got to love playing football. Good for him that his hard work for the team was recognized!
Of course, it will appear to all of America that Vandy is the only school to do such a good thing. But it really happens quite often.
I know coach Spurrier gave a scholarship to a kicker a couple of weeks ago. He had him kick a 42-yard field goal and said if he made it, the scholarship was his. Want to bet if he missed, he wouldn't have gotten another chance the next day, and the next, and the next? You would lose if you bet he would not have.
Still, Vandy is officially everybody's loveable loser now. James Franklin is being considered for sainthood. Or is it a medical license? I think he would have to coach at Notre Dame to be considered for sainthood.
Another big payoff for this scholarship video is all the recruiting attention it will generate. Again, from a cost standpoint, that was money very well spent.
Could it possibly be that the coach set this all up? Was Franklin possibly thinking ahead of time that it would be great advertisement for his team—and especially for recruiting?
Nah, no way. They just happened to have a video recorder set up on a tripod to film the coach as he went over plays on a video screen.
Pardon me if I fail to get up early to watch Fox and Friends on Friday. I think I have seen this show before. David is supposed to slay mean ol' Goliath.
Oh, wait a minute, They want to convince you that's the show that is playing next Thursday night...where the evil genius is going to pick on America's newest loveable loser, Vandy!
Just know, Gamecock fans, that a certain portion of the American public is going to view it that way. Their view will be shaped by the puff piece that will be run on Fox and Friends this Friday.
It will show how great guy James Franklin was a hero for giving that scholarship out. I really wish the folks at Carolina would allow them to show a tape of Spurrier doing the same thing just before game time.
Perception can become reality when left to the press.
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