Vanderbilt football program in better shape for coaching search - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Vanderbilt football program in better shape for coaching search

Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor/Athletics Director David Williams Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor/Athletics Director David Williams
Vanderbilt defensive end Kyle Woestmann Vanderbilt defensive end Kyle Woestmann

Vanderbilt's football program is in a better spot on Saturday as the school prepares to hire its fourth football coach in six seasons after James Franklin's resignation.

Athletic director David Williams said at a midday press conference that there are 20 to 25 interested coaches, including five who were interested when the school hired Franklin in December 2010.

"Last time when we did this, quite honestly, we actually had to get on planes and go to a lot of places where people were because it was like, 'I'll meet with you if you show up at the Des Moines airport, and we'll meet behind the cookie counter.' And there were a lot of people that basically said, 'No, I don't want to talk you," said Williams. "This time already, there is a list of 20-25 people that have reached out to us. At least five of those people are people that we asked to talk to last time that said no."

Franklin took over the Commodores program after Robbie Caldwell led the team to a 2-10 mark.

Caldwell had been thrust into the job after Bobby Johnson suddenly retired in July, just weeks before the opening of practice.

Vanderbilt advanced to a bowl game in each of Franklin's three seasons. The Commodores finished the last two seasons with nine wins.

Franklin guided the Commodores to a 24-15 mark in his three years in Nashville.

Williams said he had started making calls on Friday night after Franklin informed him he was going to accept the Penn State offer.

Vanderbilt will partner with Parker Executive Search, the prominent Atlanta firm that it has used in previous searches, including the one that identified Franklin three years ago.

"Our objective is to hire an outstanding football coach, one capable of running the program like a CEO, and do so in a timely manner," Williams said. "We are confident in our process and ability to hire a coach that will be able to advance the tremendous progress our program has made over the past three years."

Williams said he had met with Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, and a search protocol has been established.

In a release early Saturday, Williams indicated while he wants to move quickly, he does not have a timetable for the hire, saying it is more important to find the right person than to hire someone quickly.

"I think the most important thing to get is a good person who will be a good head coach," said Williams. "James Franklin was never a head coach before we hired him. [Baseball coach] Tim Corbin was not a head coach before we hired him, and I think we did pretty good with them. It's not what they were yesterday; it's what they'll be tomorrow."

Williams did not name an interim head coach.

"The coaches all have responsibility. This is sort of a hiatus for the [team]. They have workouts to do and trying to get back into the classroom," said Williams. "The coaching staff is intact until they say otherwise. We'll try to get a head coach in here as soon as we can."

Williams did acknowledge that some of the current assistants, most of whom the athletic director said were under contract through March 15, might follow Franklin to Penn State.

Defensive end Kyle Woestmann represented the Vanderbilt players at the press conference. He said his teammates will dedicate themselves to the new coaching staff.

"Whoever [Williams] decides to bring in this team is going to dedicate ourselves to him," said Woestmann. "Whether he decides to keep coaches or bring in a new staff, we still have the same goals as a team.

"Vice Chancellor Williams did a great job picking Coach Franklin, and this time they'll find someone even better than him," he said.

Williams wouldn't name any of the coaches who had showed interest in the vacant position.

Some names that have been mentioned as possible candidates include Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who is the highest-paid assistant in the country; Stanford co-defensive coordinator/associate head coach Derek Mason; Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth and Colorado head coach Mike McIntyre, whose dad George McIntyre coached the Commodores from 1979-1985.

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