Hoover, Ala.—Coming off a season in which the Vanderbilt Commodores made it to a bowl game and now with recruiting momentum build by James Franklin and an exciting coaching staff, things are much different for Vanderbilt football heading into 2012.
With 18 starters returning and a new attitude surrounding the program, the always confident Franklin said he’s not looking at the number of wins to gauge the improvement of his program this year. He said if his team does things the right way that will all come to fruition.
“We’re not a goal-oriented organization, we’re a process-oriented organization,” Franklin said. “I don’t focus on number of wins. I focus on getting better every single day. At the end of the season I want you guys in this room to say ‘Vanderbilt has a good thing going, that program has a good thing going’. That’s all I’m worried about. When it comes to number of wins I’m not worried about that. We’re just focused on being the best we can every single day and the wins will take care of themselves.”
One of the biggest questions for Vanderbilt this season is going to be leadership. With talented linebacker Chris Marve gone from the defensive side of the ball Franklin said that he’s looking for a group of his Commodores to take over and guide the team to bigger and better things this season.
“The recruiting helps with the depth and the leadership thing is important,” Franklin said. “I think Chris Marve was one of the more natural leaders I have ever been around. He just got accepted into Vanderbilt Law School and I couldn’t be more proud of him. We’re going to have to replace that. We want to spread that leadership out and our people have embraced that. Our guys understand that. I don’t really need to tell them that. They know that and we discuss it.”
Part of the change in mentality in the program comes from the focus on improving facilities and making changes in and around the football program. With new turf, a larger video board, improved locker room facilities, and stadium renovations, the Commodores are looking toward the future and Franklin said when that happens there is plenty to like about the way things look.
“When we first got here people used to try to beat us up by saying don’t go to Vanderbilt because they’re not going to win,” Franklin said. “Six months later we get don’t go to Vanderbilt because those coaches aren’t going to be there much longer. Now there is stuff flying around that we may be doing some stuff we shouldn’t be doing, which is amazing because that’s never going to happen at Vanderbilt.
“I do think we have an unfair advantage. We have more things to sell than anything in the country, the opportunity to get a world class education, an opportunity to play in the best football conference in America. If you’re the best and the brightest where else would you go? You can live in a great town and have early playing time. We’re also selling the same things to the kids that we believe, the same kool aid we’re drinking. We want to build our own legacy, we don’t want to follow in somebody else’s.”
With more energy within the program than at any time in the last 25 years, Vanderbilt is looking to build on the 2011 season against a schedule that features home games against South Carolina, Florida, Auburn, and Tennessee. Franklin adopted the rallying cry “Anchor Down” to signify what he wants to see from the program and fans this season and he said it’s something he believes in. For opponents this season it may signal a new and improved Vanderbilt program in the Music City.
“Anchor Down for us means we are dropping the anchor and we’re not backing up,” Franklin said. “We’re drawing a line in the sand. For us it’s a powerful symbol. Our guys have really embraced it. We’re trying to do a lot of things in terms of building pride and tradition in who and what we are.
“Basically we’re dropping the anchor and not backing up and drawing the line in the sand. We’re ready to go. I think what people realize is that when you play Vanderbilt you better be ready for a fight. That’s our mentality. If you come in our stadium or we come into yours, you better be ready to play for 60 minutes.”
More on Franklin, Vandy
Click The Link To Order 2012 Inside the Auburn Tigers Football Guide
Premium Subscription Signup