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Posted at 7:34 AM ET, 12/10/2010

If Gus Malzahn declines offer, Vanderbilt could make one today to Maryland's James Franklin

By Eric Prisbell

If Vanderbilt’s long-shot hope of landing Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn falls through, James Franklin could be next in line to receive a head coaching job offer as early as today, multiple sources familiar with the search said very late Thursday night.

Franklin and Greg Roman, Stanford’s offensive coordinator, have emerged as two finalists for the Vanderbilt head coaching vacancy. The school still clings to hope of convincing Malzahn to take the job and reportedly Vanderbilt made him an attractive offer that approaches $3 million per year, according to the Nashville Tennessean.

David Williams, Vanderbilt’s vice chancellor for athletics, told me Thursday that he would meet with Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos no later than this morning to discuss finalists. They also could welcome input from other unspecified individuals who are familiar with the candidates. Right now, though, the Vanderbilt community -- as well as interested parties in College Park -- are waiting on Malzahn's answer to Vanderbilt officials.

Williams likes Franklin. He told me as much Thursday. He first met Franklin when the high-energy coach was at Kansas State before he returned to Maryland as the offensive coordinator for the 2008 season. Williams saw a man who had a clear and decisive plan about how to become a head coach and run a program.

Franklin has had two in-person interviews with Vanderbilt officials, sources told me. He has been a serious candidate for more than a week now. Make no mistake, he is interested in the job. Franklin was downright bubbly when he met with a handful of local reporters for 10 minutes Thursday night. I asked him about his level of interest in the Vanderbilt job; he respectfully declined to answer, saying: "My role as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach at Maryland, that's my focus, to be the best offensive coordinator and quarterback coach I possibly can for the University of Maryland, and that's my focus. We got 18 recruits coming in here this weekend, I'm excited about that, and bowl practice is going very well. So any questions you guys have for me about East Carolina, or about Danny O'Brien, or about the offense I am excited to talk to you about."

The next turn in this drama should come soon, and it hinges on Malzahn's answer to Vanderbilt. Stay tuned …

By Eric Prisbell  | December 10, 2010; 7:34 AM ET
Categories:  Football, Ralph Friedgen  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: After two in-person interviews, Franklin could hear from Vanderbilt on Friday
Next: Video: Maryland's Travis Baltz talks about the lonely life of a kicker


Not worried b/c it doesn't really matter. I'm not insulting him, but I think the situation created by the coach in waiting decision could have worse impact than having to replace an OC. He is a good recruiter and MD will have a void to fill there, but if there is tension/turmoil over the end of RF's tenure due to the coach in waiting situation that would be bad for recruiting any way.

Posted by: mcmelton | December 10, 2010 7:54 AM | Report abuse

18 recruits in this weekend with this distraction hovering over the program. concerned, concerned.

from previous thread on JF's play-calling.

Barno - I concede the suspect play-calling by JF. No doubt the guy has his flaws as does everyone. I jut think that we are poised for RF's most successful season ever as a HC and the potential disruption to the program could undermine that. I am also concerned that the impact to recruiting will be detrimental beyond 2011.

In the past we when we have discussed the causes of the 2009 meltdown as well as some of the non-bowl years prior to that, turnover in asst coaches has had a clear negative impact. Moreover, if JF leaves, how many members of the coacing staff will follow? I don't want to see a new offensive system for the offense and especially DOB to have to learn in Spring.

I just want to see them win huge and they are poised to do so if everything remains steady state - even if we lose Torrey Smith and Kenny Tate to the NFL.

Perhaps I am over-reacting or overly conservative. After all, RF himself has proven a damn good OC in prior stops. I hope this issue is resolved early today.

Regards -


Posted by: HughGRection | December 10, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I have to admit, I was not on board with Franklin when the whole coach-in-waiting thing first happened because he was unproven but I'd like to point out a few things because I'm more of a half glass full person and everyone harps on him like they're paid to do it.

1) Look at the improvement in recruiting since he has arrived and the talent on the offensive side of the ball. That was lacking before he arrived. We'll never have the recruiting classes that Florida or USC have but we're getting good players, some 4 and mostly 3 star players that are turning out to be better than we think and are playing to their potential.

2) Anyone can criticize his play calls and everyone does and they will when there is a new offensive coordinator but remember that Fridge can override his calls and makes the final call when the plays go in or at the end of the game. While he didn't start off great, he has improved and made great in game adjustments. People are now passing to set up the run and I think he is seeing that and with a suspect but improving offensive line that was constantly changing, I think he did a great job this year making them successful and learned from his mistakes.

3) He's very young and up an coming coach. We have not had one of those at Maryland and he wants to be here. Of course he's going to test the waters as he is now and if other people think he's good, then I say we need to give him a chance or at least be open to him coaching the team. I think Don Brown is the back up plan.

I'd like to know how he negatively impacts the program because I don't see it. And do not attack him personally because that should not even be a factor.

Was the coach-in-waiting the right decision at the time? Maybe not. But can it still be a path we go down and to continue with the success of the program? If you look closely, it might make sense and actually pay off.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | December 10, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if Franklin takes the job (if offered) or not. I suspect he will take it. Being a HC at an SEC school...nice on the resume, even if it's losing at Vandy. I don't think the recruiting suffers too much if Franklin leaves. Kids commit to the program not to the person. Of course, we might lose a recruit or two, but we're talking about 1 year, 1 class.

If Franklin leaves, the OC at ECU gets an audition in the Military Bowl for MD's OC!

Posted by: WheelsRI | December 10, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse


Great analysis as well. I forgot to include that in our last post. Also, look how change in assistant coaches has affected the basketball program as well. While there is more control there as a head coach, with football, you have to delegate a lot more I feel especially with the size of the team. Hopefully Franklin is training someone else to step in for him should this happen and Fridge was the one with Franklin that decided on this offense so I would assume he'd try to keep it in house unless there was a fantastic option out there.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | December 10, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the most important aspect of a head coach's job is the ability to recruit good assistant coaches. When those coaches leave for their own opportunities to move up that is actually a good thing for the head coach. It should help him recruit new up and coming assistants. This churn does make it difficult in maintaining continuity, but it is part of the job. If Franklin leaves it will be up to Ralph to manage the process as seamlessly as possible. Let's see if he is up to it. I certainly don't want to hear any excuses.

Posted by: petecard | December 10, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

An interesting question to pose to Ralph and DOB is how much latitude does the young man have in terms of calling audibles.
I'm convinced that this kid is a 2nd OC at the line of scrimmage.
The training wheels have been long removed from DOB's bike, and a loss of JF at this juncture, while not ideal, is mitigated by the boy wonder.

Posted by: MerlinTerps | December 10, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm done with my predictions (I haven't had a stellar year with them) and will not guess the outcome of JF's future...but did anyone notice #8 G'Town also losing to Temple. Thre close losses to good teams will not look horrible come March.
Also, Duke's Kyrie Irving could be done for the year and who know's if he goes Pro next year. Might never even get to suit up against the Terps in his career..darn it!

Posted by: mydogsnameisdixon | December 10, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

A poster on another board hinted at teh possibility of DOB following JF if he leaves. If JF is offered and accepts the position and there's a poor turnout at the Military Bowl, do you think it's possible we could lose DOB?

Did anyone else get the message on their voicemails from DOB?

Posted by: SirPelleas | December 10, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Close losses count against us and show that we can lose to good competition. Beating them is all that matters. They don;t look at gray area even though the whole decision process really has no criteria necessarily for the at-large bids. IUPUI played Ohio State close last night and that doesn't mean they're going to make the tournament as a result.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | December 10, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

OK, I'm a recent UMD grad who knew and still keeps in contact with a few former "student" athletes at UMD that are now in the NFL, MLB (minors) and NBA. I know a few pros who went through the college ranks @ other schools so I have some "inside scoop" on recruiting and ncaa life if you will lol.

@ WheelsRI (are u from/in Rhode Island?) U said players commit to the program not the coach. That's not always the case... Take a look at these examples: USC, Tenn, and now Florida. How many players/recruits left those programs or will leave those schools when the coach left? When I was in H.S Scooney Penn left BC for Ohio St to be with Coach O'Brien, my boy Cooper picked Maine over Navy b/c the coach CW came to UMD instead of the tobacco Rd. schools to be with GW. However, some players do just want the school, Justin and Shawne both came to CP b/c it was close to home. Conversely history has shown that players will leave a program b/c a coach see former Michigan QB Ryan Mallett. So don't be dumbfounded if/when DOB leaves CP for Vandy and tries to duplicate Jay Cutlers career path to the NFL! DOB does have 3 yrs left of eligibility, it is a possibility....

As far as JF being a not so good OC/HC, I would think again. DiehardTerp made some very good points about him. Its no coincidence that recruiting has improved since he came back to CP. JF does love the bubble screen more than most coaches but it does open up the passing game. When you can get the corners to bite and bring in the safeties it opens up for more down the field throws. Can we go 2 or 3 less screens a game? Probably but with a young QB and a OL sponsored by Band-Aide or maybe its Vespa now, the screen game isn't that bad of an option. Football is a QB driven game, except @ GT & Navy where I think they still don leather helmets. Bubble screens did keep DOB off his back and the Pats do throw alot of short passes, this concept is not that bad of an idea. I for one hope that JF stays at CP and RF takes a graceful bow into the UMD Athletic HOF. The future is bright in CP, the bball & football teams have some "upside" one of my least fav words lol. Mel Kiper Jr said Cooper lacked in "upside" yet 7 yrs later he is still with the Chargers while Matt (OSU linebacker who had "upside") was shipped out to GB. Dare I say it, DOB & the Terps AD has upside lol...

sorry for this being long but its my first time lol. did I get approval from the regulars? do I have upside???

Posted by: dasilva_ryan | December 10, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

it would be hard for DOB to leave MD and sit out a year. Anything is possible, but it's unlikely.

the toughest challenge for MD in terms of getting good assistants is paying them. some schools pay their coordinators a ton of money. that was why Yow did the silly HCIW when Franklin got interest before.

Posted by: minhle1 | December 10, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Nice post dasilva. Not too long when it is on point. Hope to see you here again.

Posted by: petecard | December 10, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to The Fridge on this nice video:

I received an email from the University asking me to buy tickets to the Military Bowl. I already donated tickets thru the university, but I thought this video was well done. Ralph is no TV star but he comes across very sincerely.

Posted by: petecard | December 10, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Great post dasilva! It's good to see we have some inside information from bloggers that are understand the process and know people who have been through it or have been through it themselves. The objectiveness and reality is welcomed considering some of the propaganda on here is too extreme and irrelevant half of the time by the posters. I hope you continue to post.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | December 10, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse


I'm not too far from Providence, but then again, who isn't far from Providence when living in RI?

I doubt Danny will leave for Vandy. Being 9-3 or 8-4 and POY is a lot easier in the ACC than it is at Vandy in the SEC. As for the program vs. coach, the examples you cited (USC, Tenn, Miami, Mallet at UM) occurred when the Head Coach left. That signals lack of stability in the program. Your comparison is a bit apples to oranges.

While I am sure some recruits do commit based on the relationship with the OC/DC, it's not like these kids don't know the HC. When Mike Leach left OU or when Mark Mangino left OU, not a lot of kids went with them from OU to TTU or KU, respectively. When Mike Stoops left OU for AZ, not many kids left OU. Of course, you're saying "Yeah, but that's OU...the tradition, the program, Bob Stoops." Yes, the school, the program, the coach...things that are more stable than coordinators.

Will Franklin leaving affect whether or not Darrius Jennings, whom is said to be leaning MD because of his relationship with Franklin, commits to BooVa or another suitor? Possibly. I don't think anyone currently on the roster will leave MD to follow a school that 1) might not let them in, 2) will force them to sit a year (DOB already redshirted), and 3) to win 3 games a year while getting pummeled by Alabama, Auburn, UGA, UT...and on and on.

I agree with Pete's assessment about the HC being able to recruit coordinators.

Posted by: WheelsRI | December 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Sirpelleas, there is exactly 0.0% chance that Danny O'Brien leaves the MD program if Franklin leaves.

But, but, but, what if Danny leaves?!? Ugh...Some people just won't allow themselves to be happy and excited about our future.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 10, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

DOB is not going to leave if JF goes to Vandy.

Posted by: terpmail | December 10, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

lol......Right, Eric. Sure. Weren't you the guy who said we would go to the Military Bowl? lol.....Sure.


Posted by: steven09 | December 10, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

So is there any update to this?

Posted by: SirPelleas | December 10, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Who writes the titles to these blogs on the main page? I COULD be the next president of the United States.

Posted by: randysbailin | December 10, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

I really hope Franklin does not leave. This is only his third year as OC and things finally are clicking. He brought in his QB and has a very promising young line filled with big time recruits. I think the Terps are ACC Champs next year if JF, Smith, and Tate all return. Speaking of Smith and Tate, I really hope they consider the NFL strike. From the way both sides are talking, the strike seems to be a sure thing. One more year!!!

Posted by: TerpFan2001 | December 10, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I have not read any of the comments. I certainly hear about Franklin's recruiting ability and his so called play calling. But he has not proven anything in terms of his Head Coaching ability. All I have to say is this, if Miami, or any other big time program was coming after him I would be concerned. But Vanderbilt? That's basically Duke Football. Does anyone really think he will succeed? He is an idiot if he takes that job. He has a better shot staying at MD and waiting his turn. It would be career suicide if he leaves for Vandy. He is not a big loss. It's his loss if he leaves.

Posted by: tony28 | December 10, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

There is no way DOB leaves. He would have to sit a year, UMD would have to release his scholarship, plus UMD has the ability to limit which schools he could go to.

At least UMD has a chance to compete for the ACC. Vandy is guaranteed to never compete for the SEC.

Posted by: garrett4 | December 11, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Too often people on this blog fail to give credit to the coach of a team...statements like "Vandy is guaranteed to never compete" or "UMD will never challenge" etc display an attitude that coaches cant make a significant impact in their programs success yet college football is full of examples of programs who have gone from also-rans to powerhouses with the right coach...I am not saying Franklin is "that guy" but I see no reason why someone should dismiss an entire program as being unable to be successful before the new coach even gets there.....I suspect most people closely involved with football agree as evidenced by the gargantuan salaries paid to coachs....

Posted by: TerpfanMA | December 11, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Terpfan, as a general statement I agree with you and I would certainly argue that the right coach could have a major impact at Maryland. There was a time when I thought the Fridge was that guy. Now I am not so sure, but willing to see what next year brings. However, there are places where winning in a particular sport is pretty difficult and I think Vanderbilt football is one of those places. They have tried some interesting things to integrate athletes with the rest of the student body and they don't really have an athletic director. That role is mixed in with some other things that put less emphasis on athletics. It's a great school, but it doesn't even seem as committed in football as another great school, Stanford. The real question for a prospect like Franklin to answer is: What are the goals for the program and do I want to sign up for those goals. For some coaches a place like Vanderbilt might be just what they are looking for. That's for Franklin to decide.

Posted by: petecard | December 11, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

sometimes a good no call is better than the play and whether or not franklin takes a head coaching job is his choice..i never understood the coach in waiting decision given by many D1 head coaches...trouble!!

Posted by: wmnatzakanian | December 11, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse of these articles mentioned that Vandy put together a $3M package for the Auburn assistant and that seemed like a pretty strong statement to me...could be all smoke and mirrors but if they really didnt care, they could have easily promoted one of their existing assistant coaches like MD did with Krivak

Posted by: TerpfanMA | December 11, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Actually it comes down to the commitment of the school, the athletic department and boosters to a winning program. My statement about Vandy is based on Florida, Georgia and Tennessee will always be more committed to a winning program and have the resources. Plus, those are just the teams in their division. Add in Alabama, LSU and Auburn it is pretty clear why they won't have a shot, regardless of the coach.

Posted by: garrett4 | December 11, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

It is actually quite sad that there is a popular belief that there is a predetermined list of "good programs" that good coaches will go to. ESPN and other sports outlets are very quick to assume that rising coaching stars will leave programs like Stanford and Boise St. to take jobs at national powers such as Florida. It supports the belief that most programs have ceilings that cannot be broken. I get the feeling that there is no room for any new power, just the traditional powers.

I would probably feel differently if my school was a traditional power.

Posted by: garrett4 | December 11, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Again...perhaps....but lets look at a school like UMD...this board has been full of posters who say that UMD will never be a great football program (and they post a list of reasons)...but lets look over the last decade or so....My take is that Fridge is not a great coach, and yet, over the last 4 seasons there have been definite opportunities for this school to have a stellar season...08 and 10 were filled with very winnable games that could have turned good seasons into great ones, so I am left to ask: How could this happen at UMD where according to popular belief, there is not a committment to winning football???

Posted by: TerpfanMA | December 11, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

The coach is incredibly important. But the school has to pay the coach and give him the resources to succeed at the highest level. The "good" programs tend to do that consistently and the wannabes often only do it sporadically. Oregon is a great example of a program that now has a major commitment. That is fueled to a significant extent by Phil Knight at Nike. Maryland just hasn't stepped up to the plate. Heck, we haven't done it in basketball either. Look at the budget issues.

Posted by: petecard | December 11, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Thats my point Pete....UMD may not have stepped up but look how close we came in 2008 and 2010....imagine what this decade would have looked like with 2 additional 10 win seasons? Pretty good, I would my point is that alot of programs, which are written off by people, really have a great chance with the right coach in place.....Perhaps, if Franklin goes to Vandy, he wont be the guy that can make a significant difference, but I bet there are coaches out there who could

Posted by: TerpfanMA | December 11, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

You may well be right Terpfan. BTW, Eric reported that the $3MM package was put together for Malzahn. It's not clear that the other candidates would get anything near that. But the point is that there is a lot of money available.

Posted by: petecard | December 12, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

The last post about Maryland BB was before the game with UNCG. It's Sunday AM and we play BC this PM. Nothing form WaPo. Not on TI and not in the regular sports on-line.

This is not an attack on Liz. It is just a simple question: Is this what we can expect this season? If so, it may be time to move on. Barno will get his wish!

Posted by: petecard | December 12, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Va Tech has built a program by keeping the Coach Beamer and his assistants, as has Penn State w/JoePa. Surely another fine-recruiting assistant can be had for Ralph at the right price w/o deposing Ralph in the process. The first 3 years showed us what Ralph can do with Vanderlinden's recruits. Coach Vanderlinden has been the linebackers coach at Penn State for the last 10 years. E.J. Henderson, Lamont Jordan, Guillian Gary of the last minute t.d. reception making the Terps the 2001 ACC champions, and qb Shaun Hill. Coach Ron V could recruit.

Posted by: flynnie321 | December 12, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

It is all about having the right pieces in the right places. Clearly someone like Vanderlinden is a good recruiter and not cut out to be head coach.

The best coaches are the ones that know their limitations and know which positions to not go for. Or simply put, he is either a 1 or a 2 guy.

I believe there are two types of head coaches: guys like Urban Meyer that bounce from head job to head job to grow and life-long assistants that get promoted. Even though I am a Fridge supporter, one could argue that a 30 year assistant was not promoted for a reason and has limitations.

This is why I don't expect to see big things from guys like Bill Stewart or Bud Foster. If they were that great, they would have been HC's long ago.

Posted by: garrett4 | December 12, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

we play BC this PM. Nothing form WaPo. Not on TI and not in the regular sports on-line.

This is not an attack on Liz. It is just a simple question: Is this what we can expect this season? If so, it may be time to move on. Barno will get his wish!

Posted by: petecard | December 12, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

You complain about everything like a typical grumpy old man, and 99.9% of the time, you're wrong Petecard. There is an article on the MD-BC game on the homepage, written by Liz Clarke, and posted to on-line version last night.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 12, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barno. You are my hero.

Posted by: petecard | December 12, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

He's Maryland's best recruiter since Locksley, maybe even better.

Posted by: steven09 | December 12, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I cover high school football and college football for a local tv station and the only person i ever saw at games was Franklin. The kids I spoke with all said it was Franklin's energy and postive attitude that had them considering MD. He was the reason Md was back on the recruiting map. With him gone, you once again lose the young dynamic coach that these young athletes expect and then they go elsewhere. Md losing DOB, a very real possibility. He's the one who recruited him and he's the one who developed him. You want to shoot for the stars reach out to Josh McDaniel who is sitting around waiting for a chance to rise from the ashes. He was Billick's QB coach and O coordinator with the Patriots, before the Broncos disaster. He's waiting for a chance to prove he was not given a square deal in Denver. Young, dynamic with something to prove. Sounds like a good candidate to run the offense, recruit and maybe take over when Fridge is ready to step down. Just an idea! I just want MD not to lose the momentum the program has got going and believe me seeing it up close losing Franklin as a recruiter is a big loss.

Posted by: jforner1 | December 16, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

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