A year ago after James Franklin’s team blew out the Vols he called Vanderbilt-Tennessee a “good rivalry”.
Franklin: We needed to make this game more competitive, and we have. I don’t know or look at what happened before we came here. We have a good rivalry in place. (11/17/12)
This year, he’s changed his tune a bit.
Franklin: There is no doubt that you’d like this game to become a rivalry, those are fun games to be apart of. I just don’t think this is there yet. (11/18/13)
That is a direct result of the respect that Franklin has for Butch Jones and the new staff at Tennessee.
Obviously that respect wasn’t in place for Derek Dooley — and for good reason.
Two years ago the Vols narrowly escaped Neyland Stadium with a victory against Vanderbilt.
Shortly after the game a video leaked of the Vols’ celebrating their win. It’s in that video that Derek Dooley famously quipped “The one thing Tennessee always does is kick the [expletive] out of Vanderbilt.
I have no problem with the team celebrating a win, but I’d wouldn’t call beating a team 27-21 in overtime kicking the [expletive] out of anyone.
Regardless, it was in the confines of the locker room and it should’ve stayed there. It didn’t and that’s unfortunate.
When James Franklin caught wind of the video, he was none too happy as you can imagine.
Franklin: I heard about it. We’ll talk about it next year a lot. We’ll talk about it as much as you guys want to talk about it next year. We’ll watch it as many times as we got to watch it next year. That’s a wound that I’m going to leave open that’s not going to heal. I’m going to leave it open for a year and we’ll discuss it next year. I look at it as respect. Some people act like they won the Super Bowl and they beat a team that the two previous years had won four games total. Obviously we’re closing the gap and threatening some people and making some people uncomfortable, so we’ll see. But we’ll leave it at that and move on. But we’ll have a lot of discussions about this next year when the time is right. (11/21/11)
A year later Franklin had a different viewpoint on the video, but you could still feel the intensity surrounding the game.
Franklin:I have matured dramatically since that game. It’s about Vanderbilt. It’s about us getting better and doing our jobs. I have tremendous respect for the state of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee and their traditions. Our focus is on Vanderbilt. (11/12/12)
The game was definitely intense and after the Commodores won they took a victory lap around the stadium and celebrated quite a bit.
After the game Franklin took a shot at Dooley by saying “the one thing that Vanderbilt has always done is focus on being 1-0 this week, and we did it”.
This year’s game won’t have that same flare, at least among the coaches.
Butch Jones is a guy that James Franklin really respects, as evidenced by his comments during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday.
Franklin: I like Butch. I know Butch, I know guys on his staff, I knew guys on his staff at Cincinnati…..I know the fans of both teams get worked up and think there’s hate, but there really isn’t…….I’m looking forward to seeing Butch before the game and shaking his hand and wishing him good luck and going from there.
The respect goes both ways. Jones, who met James Franklin when Cincinnati played Vandy in the Liberty bowl two years ago, shares that same respect.
Jones: Anytime you go to a bowl game you get a chance to spend some time with the other team’s staff and I have known Coach Franklin for a while. That was a time when we spent a lot of time together. There is one particular individual on their staff, Herb Hand, that we coached together at West Virginia and I consider him a very good friend. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Franklin and what he has done at Vanderbilt.
This is a game that’s fun for the fans. It gets heated, especially on Twitter, but I wouldn’t expect those feelings to carry over onto the field this year like the previous two years.
Rivalries with respect are what defines college football in the south. What went on the past couple of years had no business going on at Tennessee.
With Butch Jones in charge, you can be assured there won’t be anymore leaked locker room videos proclaiming what Tennessee always does to a team.