James Franklin becoming one of the most likeable coaches in the SEC

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Vanderbilt scrimmaged Saturday, and the Wildcat formation produced 121 rushing yards on 17 direct snaps. It was a good day overall and a positive practice, but that isn’t the biggest takeaway from a hazy morning in Nashville. James Franklin continues doing James Franklin things and found himself in the stands twice, both before and during the scrimmage.

First, Franklin ventured into the stands before the scrimmage even started and thanked fans for attending. Fan support is key and ultimately crucial for building a program.

Franklin ventured into the stands once more to give a young boy with an orange sweatshirt a black shirt to cover up the non-Vandy color.

His enthusiasm is contagious, and the number of fans who want to see him succeed is growing.

Franklin’s focused on making Vanderbilt a legitimate contender, or he would have jetted for another program with theoretically a ‘better’ chance of winning. But he’s obsessed with building a brand from ground zero and accomplishing what most thought was not possible: winning.

“They told me I could never win there; it was the toughest job in all of college football. Over and over and over again, we heard that constantly,” Franklin told the Tennessean in February.

“I’m a guy that’s got a chip on my shoulder, so I like proving people wrong. That’s part of our message about how we were able to turn the thing around, by trying to take that negativity and flip it, by bombarding our guys with the same consistent positive message over and over and over again.”

We’ve seen him stop his press conference and give a fan a hug. He tackles players during practice. He’s not afraid to vote national title contenders #4 behind three SEC schools. What’s not to love about Franklin?

Franklin’s enthusiasm for his program has helped the Commodores revolutionize their football history. The Dores are back-to-back participants in bowl games for the first time in history; Vandy finished ranked for the first time since 1938, and they tied a program-best nine wins.

What will Franklin and Vandy do for an encore?

Photo Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

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