The job that James Franklin has done as head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores has been nothing short of remarkable. In just two years, Franklin has taken a team that was generally last (or near the bottom) in the Southeastern Conference and turned it into a team that has made back-to-back bowl appearances.
In short, Franklin has made the ‘Dores relevant in the nation’s toughest football conference. No longer can the other programs in the SEC overlook Vanderbilt on the schedule. Just ask the Ole Miss Rebels, a team that went to a bowl game last season. The Rebels have lost to Vandy two years in a row. Or ask the Kentucky Wildcats, who have also lost to Vandy two years in a row (by a combined score of 78-8).
With all of the momentum created by last season’s 9-4 record (including 5-3 in the SEC), as well as a Music City Bowl win over the N.C. State Wolfpack, one would think that the city of Nashville would be overcome with Black and Gold pride. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
According to the Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, season ticket sales are actually down for Vanderbilt this season. The report says that only 16,200 season tickets had been sold, down from 18,500 last year.
Franklin told the Tennessean that he is not happy with the results of ticket sales. “I really don’t want to hear about the excuses about we’re in a city and we have other things to compete with,” Franklin said. “I don’t want to hear about nationally how the trend is that people are struggling to get people to go to games, because that’s not the fact in the SEC, and we’re in the SEC. So I think the excuses are over and it’s time for us to get out and support our team.”
This could be a factor if Franklin decides to leave Vanderbilt for another program. If he is not shown support by the city of Nashville, he could very well be on his way to greener pastures. And that would be a tough blow for the Vanderbilt football program.