The Kentucky job is already open, Tennessee and Auburn will be open sooner rather than later, and Arkansas' job has essentially been open from the moment former head coach Bobby Petrino wrecked his motorcycle in April.
Recently, we've heard names like Charlie Strong, Tommy Tuberville, Kirby Smart and Willie Taggart tossed around from one or more of all of these jobs. The annual Jon Gruden rumor has even made its way to Knoxville and Fayetteville.
But after two years in the conference, the best man for any or all of these jobs may already be in the SEC—Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin.
His Commodores topped Tennessee 41-18 on Saturday night in Nashville, improving to 7-4 on the season. It was Vanderbilt's first win over the Vols since 2005, and secures its first winning regular season since 1982.
If the 'Dores can knock off a miserable Wake Forest team next week, they will finish 8-4.
Vanderbilt. At 8-4.
If that doesn't warrant serious consideration for any of those jobs—including Tennessee, which may have to swallow its remaining pride to consider Vanderbilt's head coach—I'm not sure what does.
He took one of the ultimate dead end jobs in the country, and quickly changed the culture, likely contributing to openings at Kentucky, Tennessee and Auburn in the process.
On top of winning football games, he has prospects wanting to come to Nashville. He reeled in the nation's No. 29 class earlier this season according to Rivals.com, which is impressive by Vanderbilt standards. He's following that up with what currently is the nation's 15th-ranked class.
Vanderbilt. Playing well and recruiting well.
Maybe he is the type of coach that relishes the underdog role, but if you're Arkansas, Auburn or, yes, even Tennessee, why not take that risk?
He's accomplished way more than anyone, including his bosses, ever expected or asked of him.
Franklin takes pride in what he has accomplished, and he may be happy in Nashville. But if you're the athletic director at any SEC school with a job opening, you have to make that call.
Otherwise, you may regret it.
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